Here’s the deal: You already know if you want to see “Furious 7.” If you’re reading this review and you’re thinking, “Gee, I’m really split on the fast car explosions movie, maybe this review can help me,” do not go. Just don’t even bother. Because what you’re going to get is a standard action-revenge flick, jacked up on steroids — all of the steroids. It’s got so much audacity and American shoot-em-up pride that it whisks away its characters to Abu Dhabi so they can steal an unnamed Middle Eastern prince’s monster of a vehicle by jumping it across the sun-kissed sky into three skyscrapers from the umpteenth floor. That is the kind of movie you’re getting.


Furious 7
Universal Pictures
Rave and Quality 16

And what, say you, could compel our heroes to commit such acts of daring? The sins of the past, come back to haunt. After Dom (Vin Diesel, “Guardians of the Galaxy”) and his crew beat down on baddie Owen Shaw in the previous “Fast” film, Shaw’s brother Deckard (Jason Statham, “Homefront”) seeks vengeance by hunting down the remaining members of the crew. In response to Shaw’s vengeance, Dom swears vengeance of his own, but to find Shaw he needs to first steal the God’s Eye, a super powered tracking device that I imagine is the stuff of Dick Cheney’s bedroom fantasies, for the government.

But the plot doesn’t matter, nor is it particularly cohesive. Because its plot is so full of holes (from both a writing standpoint and an “adherence to the laws of physics” standpoint), “7” requires, more than most films, that you suspend your disbelief. It knows exactly what it wants to be, and it doesn’t want you dropping logic and negativity on it.

“Furious 7,” like all of the films in the franchise, isn’t about “making sense.” In fact, it spits on “making sense.” It’s the ultimate expression in movie escapism — big, bold, self-aware. It is so self-aware that it takes time to explicitly name each character’s stereotype, from Dom’s alpha male to Roman’s (Tyrese Gibson, “Transformers”) jokester. It wears its big, juiced-up Hemi of a heart on its sleeve, and it’s damn proud of it.

And for good reason, because “Furious 7” might be the most fun you have at the movies this year. It exists in a world all on its own, a world where, when it’s cars versus, say, a predator drone, it’s a pretty fair fight; a world where The Rock (“Hercules”) flexes out of the cast on his broken arm and walks out of the hospital to go look for a chain gun. “7” ultimately amounts to a series of action set pieces, each more outrageous than the last, and it revels in its excess.

Director James Wan (“The Conjuring”), taking over for four-time “Fast” director Justin Lin, stages those sets effectively, using a steadicam so the audience can actually follow the action without feeling dizzy. There’s nothing complex — some slo-mo here, some fast-mo there — so as to let the action speak for itself.

But for as much as it’s about action, it’s also about family. Seven films in, these actors don’t so much as act as they do pal around. There’s a unique chemistry here that gives the film an uncanny amount of life, more life than anything with “7” in its title deserves. Of course, it comes under unfortunate circumstances.

For as much as we see Brian O’Conner, the man who plays him isn’t there much at all. Paul Walker (“Hours”) tragically died in November 2013 before any of the film’s action sequences were shot. Using sly camerawork (framing Walker’s scenes at a distance in usually dark settings) and some unparalleled digital wizardry, the filmmakers bring Walker back to life, his face smiling, his eyes animated and shining. “Furious 7” is his coda, one last supercharged orchestration of machismo and heart and bravery; the last five minutes are perfect and, dare I say, beautiful.

That’s probably why “Furious 7” turned out the way it did — it needed to pack enough life into itself to raise one of its own from the dead. And it works.

That’s the power of movies, even the popcorn trash. For two hours, you give yourself to that silver screen; sometimes you get entertainment, sometimes you get rubbish, others still you’ll get thinkpieces. With “Furious 7,” you get energy, vivacity — life.

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