Movie News & Reviews

‘Furious 7’ burns up the screen

• Director James Wan pulls audience into action with clever camera work

• Suspend reality to really enjoy film

• Paul Walker gets sweet, fitting tribute

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Let’s get this out of the way: The majority of the cast of “Furious 7” couldn’t act surprised if a King Cobra wearing a tuxedo jumped out of their sock drawer.

That’s not a slap at the film.

Expecting good acting in a movie like this is like trying to decide which wine goes best with your Big Mac. The only fair way to judge the latest sequel in the fast-driving franchise is to look at the action scenes. The emotional moments are just speed bumps in the fast lane that is the “Fast and Furious” films.

Using that guideline, “Furious 7” is the best one yet.

Director James Wan (“Saw”) shows he can create more than just horror films by staging huge stunts the pull the viewer into the seat for the ride. He accomplishes this through clever filming, where the camera often tumbles and turns with the action.

This movie has more cars flying through the air than airplanes. It also has brutal battles on the ground between the top action film stars working today.

This approach is necessary. With each sequel, the “Fast and Furious” franchise has grown from being a simple and interesting story about street racers to a tale where the core group has been turned into superheroes without the flashy costumes.

That’s the only way to explain how the team can send cars flying through the air from one skyscraper to another. Or, how they can be beaten with massive metal tools and walk way without a bruise.

Because this series has morphed since the first film, expecting a story based in reality makes as much sense as expecting award-winning acting. In the real world, a helicopter piloting a drone that’s blowing up much of Los Angeles would get more attention from authorities.

That thinking is counterproductive to the movie’s structure. The best way to fully appreciate “Furious 7” is to sit back, buckle up and let the action hit you in the face fast and furiously.

What you’ll see is that Statham makes a great super villain (the kind that can’t be killed and always stays one step ahead of the heroes) and Tyrese Gibson provides nice comic relief. Even the appearance of Kurt Russell as the head of a super-secret operation gives the movie a nice touch.

And the over-the-top fight scene between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham is so entertaining, it’s OK all laws of logic are ignored.

Those actors are good. But the movie survives and thrives on big explosions and even bigger explosions.

It is a little difficult to watch the movie because of the death of Paul Walker. Each time his character talks about how this could be the mission where he doesn’t come home, it resonates with a real sadness. Wan does footnote the film with a nice tribute to Walker: His character drives off into the sunset.

Traditionally, the summer movie season starts the beginning of April. Summer comes early this year as “Furious 7” has enough high octane action to make it the kind of movie that stays in theaters throughout the summer.

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