Furious 7

Year: 2015
Studio: Universal
Director: James Wan
Writer: Chris Morgan/Gary Scott Thompson
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Chris Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kurt Russell, Tony Jaa, Djimon Honsou, Iggy Azalea

There are so many explosions you think you're watching Apocalypse Now, so many fight scenes you think you're watching a Jackie Chan kung fu spectacular, so many ridiculous stunts you think you're watching the entire James bond franchise in one sitting and so many female butts you think you're watching Anal Virgins 4.

Say what you like about James (Saw, Insidious) Wan, but he's gone seamlessly from low-fi horror to all-out blockbuster male fantasy. What started out as a franchise about car racing is now so full of crashing and clanging (of much more than just cars) Furious 7 gives the Transformers franchise a run for its money in the migraine-inducing-cinema stakes.

The overarching plot is brain-deflatingly simple, spun out to an epic of action and thrills. The big brother of the villain (Owen Shaw – Luke Evans) from the last movie, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), is gunning for Dominic (Vin Diesel) and the gang, looking for vengeance.

Remember when he killed Han (Sung Kang) at the end of FF6 and then called Dom to warn him they'd all soon know his name? Well he's here, and they do.

When it becomes apparent they're being systematically hunted down, the guys enter into a seeming pact with the devil when a high level government spook (Kurt Russell) tells Dom if he helps them track down a top secret spy technology called God's Eye for the US, he'll let Dom use it to find Shaw and stop him.

Thus begins a globe-hopping jaunt from the Caucasus mountains to free the hacker behind God's Eye, the implausibly hot Ramsey (Game of Thrones' Nathalie Emmanuel), then stealing the chip that runs it from the ostentatious penthouse apartment of an Arab prince, then returning home to the mean streets of LA for the final showdown. Except Shaw's not the only one after God's Eye, and the fearsome terrorist leader Jakande (Djimon Hounsou, playing another interchangeable villainous black African stereotype) brings the might of his private army down on everyone's heads.

It all culminates in an epic three-way battle straight out of the Star Wars universe. Shaw and Dom are fighting with giant automotive tools on the roof of a parking lot. Brian (Paul Walker) is fighting martial arts dynamo Kiet (Tony Jaa) – who's on Ramsey's trail – while he tries to get to a satellite tower to boost the signal so Ramsey can use God's Eye to their advantage. Last but certainly not least, an armed drone is chasing Tej (Chris Bridges), Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) through downtown LA firing enough missiles to bring about the crumbling of the San Andreas fault.

Oh, and supercop Hobbes (Dwayne Johnson), after spending most of the movie in hospital after his introduction to Shaw, straps on a middy gun to lay waste to the other half of the city while they're all at it.

Other subplots find their way in as well, like Letty's continuing struggle with her memory after the fate that befell her at the end of FF5, and Brian's struggle to adjust to life as a husband and father with Mia (Jordana Brewster). One of the film's best scenes is of him staring balefully over the wheel of a car and revving the engine before you see that he's pulling up in front of his son's school in a minivan.

So in case that description doesn't make it clear enough, it's not about drag racing cars anymore. It's not like 2001's Fast and the Furious was a small, quiet, indie drama. But the way the studio, producers and director Wan have retained the essential flavour and character of the franchise considering it's morphed into something so over the top and gleefully ridiculous is the most impressive feat of the movie.

Because at a certain point you realise it indeed does feel like the same franchise because – like always – Diesel talks in a low, monotonous grumble, chicks walk everywhere in microskirts, bikinis and high heels, and these supposed street racers can fight, shoot, drive and do everything else they need to hold off an ex SAS assassin and an African terrorist leader supported by high tech weapons.

It's Hollywood successful property modus operandi all the way – more, bigger and louder in the cast, stunts, effects and everything else.

You've seen some of the more eye popping stuff in the trailer, so if you're curious about how a movie can make cars being backed out of a plane or leaping between not one but two skyscrapers make sense and you're prepared to turn off your inner eye-rolling mechanism to more of a degree than usual, you'll have a good time.

There's also kind of a morbid fascination to see how the film handles the premature death of Walker in late 2013 – we've all heard about the rewriting, stand-ins and digital animation used to complete his scenes. It's only really obvious in the last two minutes and while it doesn't really make as much sense to the story as it could, it seems to be everyone involved – particularly Diesel – wanting you to share in their goodbye of him.

There were sniffles throughout the cinema and spontaneous applause when the screen faded to black and the words 'for Paul' appeared on screen, and it's certainly the only time you'll ever feel tears in a Fast and the Furious movie (at least, ones that aren't bought about by the physical pain in your ears from such orgasmic destruction).

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