The Film Pit: Furious 7 [Review]

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For reasons beyond my control I have somehow seen 2 Fast 2 Furious more than any other film in my life. It’s certainly not my favourite film (it’s going to take something special to knock Shaun of the Dead of its perch) but apparently ITV2 have organised their airing of this film around when I take sick-days and need something to take my mind off all the uncontrollable pooping.

I bring this up because I have almost zero knowledge of the Fast & Furious franchise, but I have what could almost be classed as a supernatural level of knowledge in the second film. If anyone was in a position to be confused by references to past continuity it would have been me, but I can affirm, if it really needed affirming, that experience of the other films in the series isn’t really necessary here; you’re watching what amounts to a very expensive game of Mousetrap where the pieces of cheese are cars hitting eachother, and the mousetrap is also cars hitting eachother.

The thrust of the film follows Vin Diesel’s crew trying to steal a piece of software on behalf of the CIA, software that can be used to locate any person in the world by tuning into every single electronic advice in existence. They want this software because they want to find Jason Statham, brother of the Big Bad from the last film, who has a nasty habit of showing up on their doorsteps to ask them some very tough questions using his fists in place of words.

Imagine that a barbaric killer, portrayed by Jason Statham no less, was hunting you down. Every corner you turned, every door you opened, lead to his three-potatoes-stapled-together face sneering back at you. Imagine even that while trying to steal top secret CIA-level software in Azerbaijan, at secret coordinates known only to government officials, that Jason Statham would still show up behind you to give you a wedgie with one hand and a bullet enema with the other.

Imagine, trying to steal software that tracks a person’s location, to use it on a person whose location you are constantly aware of.

It’s a plot point that takes a left turn at nonsensical and continues straight into plain Dadaism, but joyfully so. This film is aware of its own ludicrous nature and revels in it. Vin Diesel delivers every line like he has a mouth full of walnuts, Jason Statham talks like a snake that was raised by cockney parents, and fight sequences seem to take Looney Tunes as their biggest reference point.

When there’s action on the screen the film is a whole load of camp fun. Cars jump from skyscraper to skyscraper, fast cars are used to hijack government motorcades, and Jason Statham shows off his genuine talent at hand-to-hand stuntwork. The problem is that the camera is only alive when either a car or a lady’s bottom is on screen – everything else is shot like a 90’s soap opera, flat and lifeless.

This is a real shame. This is a long film, over two hours, and at least an hour of that is spent on this dull and rigid melodrama that no one cares about.  The interconnecting scenes between the action set pieces are executed with a tortuously dry indifference and are filled with genuinely painful attempts at character comedy. I would honestly only recommend watching this film in the comfort of your own living room, where you can sit with a remote control in your hand ready to skip forward to the next time Jason Statham shows up.

I also want to briefly touch on this whole lady bottom business. There’s nothing wrong with pushing what I like to call “The Sexy Button” in your big Hollywood film, but if you’re going to hit The Sexy Button then at least hit it properly. For a film that boasts a genuinely impressive diversity of cast there’s an uneasily exclusive focus on women as sexual objects. There’s nothing to be ashamed of with titillating cinema, but you really need to have the strength of your sexy-convictions and fetishize men as much as you do women.

You know how the naming of each film is also the best running gag of this series? How’s this for a pitch for the next one of these: call it Fast FrEight and make it about eight racing freight trains. Bish, bash, bosh, someone at Hollywood hand me a cheque.

 

Image Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight

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