Fasten Your Seatbelt! As the sunlight hours increase, I hope you are finding pockets of fun this summer. One enjoyable outing I experienced was seeing Fast & Furious 7. Because of thousands of other moviegoers, FF7 is roaring to global record-making millions for Universal Studios.
Yes, this seventh film in the Furious franchise is a predictable story with its beefy street dudes, sexy chicks, muscle cars, and arsenal-packing bad guys. So, why are so many people going?
One answer is the movie’s real life tragedy. What happens when one of your major actors dies as a passenger in a one-car accident before you are done filming a car movie?
FF7 was shelved as Paul Walker’s family and friends grieved the actor’s death, Nov. 30, 2013. Afterward, writer Chris Morgan and director James Wan altered the script, preserving what Walker had already filmed. Walker’s two brothers, Caleb and Cody, filled in for screen shots of Walker’s character, Brian O’Connor. The top selling song See You Again by Wiz Khalifa from the Fast and Furious 7 soundtrack is a tribute to Walker:
“It’s been a long day without you my friend,
And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again.
We’ve come a long way from where we began.
Oh, I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again.
When I see you again….”
I had only seen the first movie of the franchise, The Fast and The Furious, in 2001. All I remember is car thief Vin Diesel (aka Dominic Toretto)–his silky voice and somewhat tortured machismo. After the first five minutes of FF7 I almost walked out because of too many roaring cars and skimpy bikinis. “This is so cheesy,” I whispered to movie buddy as the backside of a race-car flag waver lingers more than once on screen. The truth now: I am glad I stayed for the bumpy ride.
Here is why I think FF7 works:
- Lead character Dominic Toretto nails it in a toast with his friends, “To La Familia.” This movie is about a stitched together family of likable rogues who care about each other and yet remain incredibly self-made. Don’t most of us want a family that cares as we individually do it our way?
- In FF7, there are many beautiful cars that roar and get busted up and exceed the limits of our imagination. The special effects team filmed real cars pushed out of 12,000-foot high cargo planes. One report said the vehicles parachuted on target 70 percent of the time! You have to love people who work behind the camera and come up with such outrageous stunts. Writer Morgan throws everything into the plot to satisfy our “seen-it-all” movie eyes. It’s one thing to have a car crash through a high-rise building in the United Emirates, but three skyscrapers in a row. Crazy, dude!
- Okay, there are so many hot babes in skimpy clothing, but it comes in the PG-13 variety. This is obviously Hollywood’s formula for capturing the male market. But at least Michelle Rodriguez’s character Letty is smart and at one point rescues herself and another brainy beauty.
- Some of my twenty something friends have a favorite FF7 scene of their former teenage wrestling star “The Rock,” aka Dwayne Johnson. A hospitalized Johnson flexes his muscles to pop off an arm cast and tells his little daughter, “Daddy, has to go to work now.” Some in the audience are maturing with the movie’s characters.
I won’t tell you the movie’s ending, but it is an appropriate one for Walker/Diesel fans and for the newbies. I will say it resonates with the farewell friendship of the biblical David and Jonathan–just in hot-looking cars.
At FF7’s premiere there were many tributes to Paul Walker. His brother Cody said, “It’s bittersweet, but I think Paul would be proud.” Sometimes, Hollywood gets it right even while making its millions.
If your tastes run toward suspenseful films you couldn’t do much better than selecting one of Walker’s last movies, the PG-13 Hours (2013). It’s about a father going the distance to save his newborn baby during Hurricane Katrina. Walker’s PG Eight Below (2006) is a true story about an Antarctica dog sledder and his incredible canines.
Whichever summer film you choose, may your watching be worth the ticket price. After all, you are bankrolling your future flicks.