<em>Furious 7</em>
Courtesy Photo

Weird as it sounds, this movie will only be great if it lives up to what the perfectly named character actor Vin Diesel promises: to be one last ride. Of course, Hollywood will sequel-ize it again if it feels the money is there, but for the sake of the franchise’s goofball “integrity,” it would be ideal if it ended with this installment.

And where are we now in the long, unlikely car chase? The Fast and Furious gang are reunited after long ago moving from soulful Southern California highways to exotic locales like Tokyo, Spain, and London, brought together to stop one Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) from hunting down and killing the former grease monkeys turned suave adventurers — T-shirts dressed up in tuxedos. But first they must acquire a dingus for the CIA, which leads them to even more furiously fast locales like Dubai and the Caucasus Mountains, where everything but Dracula shows up.

Every aspect of the franchise’s past is effectively recycled, too. Dom (Diesel) is reunited with the still amnesia-addled Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) has a cartoon cameo as “the cavalry.” (The scene where he removes his cast is corny and great.) But, of course, the film works best as a farewell to Diesel’s costar Paul Walker, the Santa Barbara actor who died in a real car crash before filming was completed.

Somehow, Furious 7, with all of its preposterous stunts, mock epic chase scenes, clunky dialogue, and sadistic bloodless fight scenes, is redeemed in a finale that manages to make the whole series seem goopy and romantic. It brings the series together while magically connecting to the actual fate of a charismatic actor. (Who knows what Walker’s daughter thinks about the conclusion, but it is tasteful.) This elaborately cinematic film, which feels like a Hong Kong movie on a steroid budget, does redeem the mess. But it will be shameful, no, infuriating if they make another.


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