Director: James Wan
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Kurt Russell, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris
Written by: Chris Morgan and (based on the characters created) Gray Scott Thompson
Running Time: 137 mins
Release date: 3rd April 2015
What once started life as a B-movie about illegal street car racing and turned into a mammoth of a franchise becoming more and more ludicrous with each installment. This new entry to the series is the most bizarre, crazy, mouth-droppingly deranged one yet with some of the biggest and most bonkers set pieces this year so far, with, alas, a tinge of sadness underlining it all.
Dominic Toretto and the gang thought that their lives of chasing around the world was over, until he and best buddy, Brian, are sent an explosive package from Deckard Shaw, the brother of the terrorist they stopped in London. Recruited by the mysterious Mr Nobody, Toretto and his team have to track down a hacker who has created a device called God’s Eye, which can pinpoint anyone anywhere in the world. Get the device and they get Deckard Shaw.
Everything you’d expect from a Fast & Furious film is present and correct: fast, noisy cars – check. Gratuitous shot of scantily clad ladies – check. Testosterone-fueled dialogue – check. Big, brash, enormous set pieces – check, check, check. Horror director James Wan, taking over the helm from former series leader Justin Lin, has obviously been a fan of the series because the moment it starts, you know exactly what you are going to get. 137 minutes of brain into neutral action.
He doesn’t allow a moment of the running time to be interrupted with pointless explanation or wordy scenes. Everything is here for a purpose and that is to link the extraordinary stunt show. So we get cars parachuting out the back of planes, cars being chased through the streets of L.A. by a drone and, more bizarrely, a supercar being propelled from one building to another, to another. There’s even a moment when a car is hurled up at a helicopter!
You don’t have time to wonder about why they need a device that can track an individual when that said individual manages to appear, like some unstoppable Terminator, everywhere Toretto and the crew go?You don’t have a minute to ask who Mr Nobody is and if he’s working for the government, why he’s willing to allow a former gang of criminals to go after a wanted mercenary? These and a whole host of other question just don’t interest the film makers. All they are interested in is pushing the boat out for the next big screen moment for you to go “really?”
Performance wise, there’s very little to say. Vin Diesel gets a bigger slice of the pie this time, mainly because of the tragic death of co-star Paul Walker halfway through filming, who, with the use of his brothers and some clever CGI, you’d hardly know he wasn’t there to finish the film. Dwayne Johnson has a huge fight at the beginning and then disappears until the end, even though he does have the “moment” of the film, when he removes the cast from his arm that has disabled him for the rest of the film.
Kurt Russell, as My Nobody, proves he still has plenty of screen charisma left in him, even though he is given very little to do, while the winning card is the inclusion of Jason The Stath Statham as superhuman villain Deckard. Giving both Diesel and The Rock a run for their money in the fight sequences, it’s a smart move to have him on board, giving the film another level to play with.
The movie ends with a heart-felt tribute to Walker and never has Diesel’s words about not being friends but family rung so true. In fact, the short yet perfectly formed end sequence, with a car driving into the sunset, does bring the film down, one that had, up to then, been so bonkers and so much fun. Yes, it’s not high-brow intellectual stuff but it’s a good, old-fashioned slice of guilty pleasure and I, for one, was sold.