Three and a half stars out of five
The plot of any "Fast & Furious" movie is about as relevant as a rotary telephone. Having said that, "Furious 7" is my favorite of the "Fast & Furious" films, and it has nothing to do with the heartwarming-heartbreaking way in which they bid farewell to the franchise’s late star, Paul Walker, who died during production.
Let’s just get this out of the way: Vin Diesel’s Dom and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Hobbs are both seeking revenge against the same guy. That guy would be Shaw, played by Jason Statham. The difference is, Hobbs can’t do anything about it because he’s in a hospital bed -- you’ll have to see the movie to find out why. But Dom is able-bodied, ready to assemble his team and squash the man who nearly killed his family.
Statham is just one of the reasons "Furious 7" is better than all the rest. As a good guy, Statham is a bad***. As a bad guy, he becomes a Sith lord of bad-ery. Again, I don’t really care much about his motivation here, and I don’t think you will, either.
He knows how to drive fast cars, pull the pin on a grenade, handle every weapon imaginable and kill a man with his hands, feet, fingers, legs, elbows and hair. OK, he doesn’t have any hair but if he did, I’m confident he could kill a man with it.
Not only are the "Furious 7" car chases and stunts more creative, they’re damn-near breathtaking. And the smartest person in the movie this time around is a woman, a sexy computer genius named Ramsey, played by Nathalie Emmanuel, already familiar to “Game of Thrones” fans as Missandei.
Unless you’re looking for it, you can hardly tell which scenes were shot after Paul Walker’s death, using his brothers as stand-ins, though there’s a noticeable lack of dialogue and close-ups in those scenes, which you would expect. Director Justin Lin and company did a fine job making this film faster and more furious than the rest, but they don’t forget Walker, whose memory and spirit infuse "Furious 7."
As we must do in life, they celebrate his life but move on, giving fans a fitting tribute to one of the men who helped establish what has become one of Hollywood’s most formidable franchises.