Granger on Movies: 'Furious 7'
Published 4:02 pm, Friday, April 17, 2015
Paul Walker was making what would be his final film when he tragically died in a fiery car crash in November 2013. In the aftermath, the film-makers scrambled to rework this latest muscle-car melodrama in their lucrative franchise.
They did an admirable job, making it difficult to discern where CGI and stand-ins -- like Walker's brothers Cody and Caleb, along with John Brotherton -- with unused footage from previous films, substitute for Walker's presence.
Plot-wise: While Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker) and their underground street-racing crew are trying to rebuild their lives, a vengeance-seeking mercenary, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), arrives in Los Angeles to settle the score for what they previously did to his younger brother, Owen (Luke Evans).
There's a mysterious government operative, Petty (Kurt Russell), searching for Ramsay (Nathalie Emmanuel), the programmer of a computer surveillance system known as the "God's Eye." Along with DSS lawman Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), he proposes that if they'll help him find her kidnapper, the terrorist Jakande (Djimon Hounsou), they can use the device to track down Shaw.
So they're off from London to Tokyo, Azerbaijan, the Caucasus Mountains, Abu Dhabi and the Dominican Republic before returning to southern California, revving up for the predictable climax, accompanied by thundering hard rock.
In addition to the primary participants, there's the techie Tej (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges), motormouth'd Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Dom's girl-friend, still-amnesiac Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez). Plus bikini-clad babes and a cameo from Iggy Azalea.
Screenwriter Chris Morgan and director James Wan ("Saw," "The Conjuring") don't stint on the violent collisions or gravity-defying stunts. There's a $3.4 million Lykan HyperSport jumping between skyscrapers and five vehicles parachuting out of the back of a C-130 cargo plane at 12,000 feet.
FYI: No one actually sat in the cars during the drop, especially not the actors. The action was filmed from numerous angles, including by a hovering helicopter and a sky-diving team with helmet-mounted cams.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Furious 7" skids in with a speedy 6. The film-makers give Paul Walker and his Brian O'Conner character a graceful farewell -- perhaps that's what's most memorable.
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