"Furious 7" Breaks Open the Gates of the Summer Movie Season

Paul Walker in "Furious 7"

First things first: Paul Walker would be proud of this. It’s an action franchise that will please its huge and ever-growing fanbase. He gets to go two rounds with Thai martial arts star Tony Jaa and gets the last laugh. Not a bad way to go.

Overall, Walker’s scenes are quite seamless. I only noticed a few behind-the-head shots. If you don't think about how some of his scenes were completed without him, you probably will not notice them. The only thing I did notice is his diminished dialogue, compared to the previous films in the franchise.

Now that we got that out of the way, “Furious 7” is the best Hollywood-produced Hong Kong movie ever. It’s got lots of bad-ass fight scenes, mano-a-mano and the female version of it. There’s Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson vs. Jason “The Transporter” Statham, Paul Walker vs. Tony Jaa times two, the aforementioned Statham vs. Vin Diesel, and Michelle Rodriguez vs. MMA champion Ronda Rousey. I haven’t seen this many (or haven’t noticed) drawn-out fight scenes in a Hollywood production before.

You also get the kind of mayhem involving guns, cars, helicopters, drones, buildings, and anything that can be blown up in exciting ways on film that $250M can produce.

Johnson brought the fun. I chuckle each time the guy opens his mouth. He’s the new Arnold. In a way, this is “The Expendables” with younger action stars at their prime and ten times the budget. The two franchises were duking it out for Kurt Russell’s service. Statham and Rousey have appeared in both. It’d be cool if there’s a cross-over sometime in the future.

There’s barely a plot here: just enough to get you from one outrageous fight or explosion to the next. And the characters are superhuman - surviving gun shots, car crashes, cliff falls, and everything else the screenwriters throw at them.

Do according to the wise words from a member of Toretto’s team, “Don’t think,” and you’ll have buckets of popcorn fun.

Folks, the summer movie season has officially started.

"Furious 7" opens this Friday. It currently scores a surprisingly high 88% on Rotten Tomatoes and is expected to gross $120M+ this weekend.

(Horror maestro James Wan does a great job here. As I said in my recent podcast with Binh Ngo, I was skeptical because I didn't like his previous foray into the action genre "Death Sentence." He shot that as if he was making a horror film, which I thought was unusual.)

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