Universal's Furious 7 (a.k.a. Fast & Furious 7) opens nearly a month before the now-traditional start of the Summer Movie Season this year. However, the trailers for the film (such as the new international preview, embedded above) tease a relentless thrill ride full that blends heart, humor, and exhilarating action pieces - ones as high-octane as those found in your average summer blockbuster. The movie delivers all that while also effectively paying tribute to the late Paul Walker, according to the first handful of reviews for the film.
Furious 7 was penned by the Fast and the Furious series' trusted scribe, Chris Morgan, and directed by James Wan (The Conjuring). Story-wise, this film picks up with Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian (Walker) as they - and their loved ones - find themselves being hunted down by one Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham): the vengeful brother to recently-deceased Furious 6 villain Owen Shaw. This installment, unlike the last three Furious movies, takes place after the events in Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, as was setup with Furious 6's mid-credits scene.
Wan's Fast and the Furious adventure was a last minute addition to the 2015 SXSW festival held over this past weekend. Below, we've assembled a handful of spoiler-free excerpts from the first reviews for the film, for your reading convenience (note: you can click any of the corresponding links for the full reviews):
THR - Any moviegoer who didn't know about the untimely death of Paul Walker would never guess it had occurred during production of Furious 7, a film that (whatever massive efforts were required to work around his absence) is as stupendously stupid and stupidly diverting as it could have hoped to be had everything gone as planned.
Collider - Minus the [story flaws], Furious 7 is everything you’d want in a new Fast and Furious film... But most important of all, the film actually means something. Furious 7 is certainly a popcorn movie geared towards delivering big thrills, but it’s also oozing with heart and passion. The characters in the movie care deeply for one another and that devotion is infectious...
Screen Crush - Furious 7 almost certainly won’t be the last Fast & Furious movie. But at times it feels like the series’ farewell. There are numerous callbacks and homages to the franchise’s entire 15-year history. The setpieces are bigger and crazier than ever, and it’s hard to imagine anyone topping them. And before the chases really get rolling, the mood is often downright mournful...
Much of the success of Furious 7's big and bold action sequences can be attributed to the film's stunt team/coordinators - as highlighted in a recent featurette - and their frequent death-defying efforts, no doubt. Nevertheless, this initial wave of reviews indicate that Wan was able to put his personal signature on his first big-budget studio tentpole.
Collider, for example, mentions the movie includes "a number of striking techniques" not seen is this franchise before, but which have been used by Wan - to different effect - on his past horror genre pictures (think the multiple agile tracking shots on display in The Conjuring). Not surprisingly, though, most of these reviews seem to agree: much like its predecessors, the latest Fast and the Furious installment (as Cinemablend puts it) "gives off the sense it was developed with the large-scale action set pieces in mind first, with a largely thin, MacGuffin-driven plot used to weave it all together."
Finally, as many fans of the Fast and the Furious property most likely anticipated, the tactics used to complete the seventh film after Walker's passing (see: using his brothers as stand-ins and body-doubles) are not without their flaws. All the same, the closing line of toofab's review suggests this may ultimately not be an issue for most filmgoers - and that review's outlook seems to sum up the early consensus for Furious 7 quite well, at that:
Do these fleeting moments take you out of the film at all though? No. If anything, they just show a desire from the cast, the studio and Paul's own family to complete something he was passionate about and loved being a part of while he was still alive. And that's something I can support, furiously.
Furious 7 opens in U.S. theaters on April 3rd, 2015.
Source: CJ CGV