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Furious 7 (2015)
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/15/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/2/2015
When we talk about long-running movie series, we usually think of horror movies, such as Friday the 13th or A Nightmare on Elm Street. Outside of horror, we don't see many movies which spawn sequel after sequel. The Fast and the Furious series is the rare exception. Beginning in 2001, the series has delivered six sequels. What make this especially weird is that after the third film, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, the series was considered dead. But, it came back three years later and has been going strong. So strong in fact, that the latest film, Furious 7, grossed $1 billion worldwide. So, it must be a great movie, right?
(Full disclosure, The Fast and the Furious is the only other movie in the franchise that I've seen. So, I was a little behind in what was going on.)
Furious 7 follows the events of Fast & Furious 6 in which the characters fought Owen Shaw. As the movie opens, Owen's brother, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) vows to get his vengeance. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Brian (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) are enjoying their lives and raising their son, and apparently living with Dom (Vin Diesel), who has recently been reunited with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who was believed to be dead...and who has amnesia. This bliss is short-lived though as a mysterious package arrives at their house and then explodes, demolishing the structure. Deckard Shaw then arrive in LA, where he attempts steal information on Dom's crew from Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), which results in a massive fight. Soon, Dom and Shaw clash, and Dom then meets Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), a government agent who wants to aid the crew in catching Shaw. So, armed with new cars and new intelligence, Dom, Brian, Letty, Roman (Tyrese Gibson), and Tej (Chris Bridges), start a trip around the globe in order to obtain new technology which will help them to catch Shaw.
What keeps audiences coming back to the Fast & Furious series? We'll get back to that. For now, I would like to focus on the director of Furious 7, James Wan. When I look at a list of my favorite things in the world of entertainment, most of the items at the top are from my formative years. They are the things which introduced me to certain things and influenced my tastes for the future. Translation: Most of the things at the top of my person al "Top 10" are really old. One of the few exceptions is that James Wan is on my list of favorite directors. For one thing, I love his devotion to the horror genre, but it's mostly for the fact that he brought such a visual flair and a mastery of actual suspense in movies like Saw, Dead Silence, and especiallyInsidious, which I consider to the best horror films in recent memory. You can imagine my surprise when I learned that Wan would be helming the last Fast & Furious installment. While I had been away from the series for over a decade, I was interested to see what Wan would bring to it. I can say that there are some nice shots here (I loved when the camera turned to the side during the Hobbs/Shaw fight) and all of the action sequences are well-staged.
However, even a director as gifted as Wan can't overcome the script here. Writer Chris Morgan actually wrote a tight screenplay early in his career -- Cellular -- but since 2006, it appears that he's been the "house band" of writer for the Fast & Furious films. Furious 7 attempts to combine the car-based of the series with a street-smart James Bond film and the result is bewildering. Like a Bond film, we jump from London to Los Angeles to Azerbaijan to Abu Dabhi and then back to Los Angeles. We also get some Bond-like technology from a new form of facial recognition software. But, there's no hiding the fact that this "story" is simply an excuse to wreck cars in various parts of the world. Again, the action scenes are very well-staged, but they are tantamount to nothing. Even in the hands of a gifted director like Wan, there is no suspense here, as we know that none of these characters are going to die, no matter how dire the situation. Also, the dialogue, which was certainly lame in the first film, is mostly laughable here. And here's my biggest question, with the technology of hands-free devices available today, why are they are trying to drive and use walkie-talkies at the same time?
So, I'll ask again, what keeps audiences coming back to these movies. It must be the action sequences, because I know it's not for the acting. They could have had a tree stand in for Vin Diesel and no one would have noticed the difference. Furious 7 got a good deal of publicity died during the film's production. The movie does a good job of covering his absence and it's very seamless on that account...until the tribute montage at the end, which is touching, but also feels very weird. At 137 minutes, Furious 7 features a lot of cars and a lot of bad lines and a lot of monotony. This is one of those movies which has so many nadirs, it's hard to pick the lowest, but it has to be when Hobbs leaves the hospital. But, my view aside, fans of the series are going to flock to this movie. All others are better off playing Need for Speed, as it features lots of cars and is actually exciting.
Furious 7 throws around the term "race wars" way too much for this political climate on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, most notably reds, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The depth is excellent, as the actors are clearly separate from the backgrounds and the level of detail is impressive. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.2 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. As one would expect, this is a muscular track in which we feel the revving of the engines and every car crash. The stereo and surround effects show great separation and it's very obvious when sounds move from side-to-side or from front-to-back. The audio is very detailed and we can make out distinct sounds. The subwoofer effects are nearly non-stop at times, providing a low rumble to most of the movie.
The Furious 7 Blu-ray Disc contains a variety of extra features. The Disc offers four DELETED SCENES which run about 6 minutes. These are all brand-new scenes, two of which deal with Letty's past, but they don't add any new subplots or characters. "Talking Fast" (32 minutes) has James Wan walking us through the making of and thinking behind key scenes. It also contains comments from the actors as well. "Back to the Starting Line" (12 minutes) focuses on the challenge of maintaining the "quality" of the franchise and keeping things fresh. They say "franchise" a lot here. "Flying Cars" (6 minutes) gives an overview of the scene in which the cars jump out of a plane, including behind-the-scenes footage and animatics. The challenge of shooting in at low-oxygen elevations is examined in "Snatch and Grab" (8 minutes), which shows us the making of the chase down the mountain. "Tower Jumps" (7 minutes) shows us how multiple takes and CG were used to create the illusion of a car jumping from building to building. "Inside the Fight" is a four-part series which looks at the stunt-work involved in the hand-to-hand combat in the movie. "The Cars of Furious" (11 minutes) takes us into the garages to look at the custom cars built for the movie. "Race Wars" (7 minutes) shows how the series has come full-circle back to the event which was featured in the first film. We get the MUSIC VIDEO for the song "See You Again". Finally, we have "Making of Fast & Furious Supercharged Ride" (8 minutes) doesn't focus enough on the ride.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long