So the first thing you should know is that I’ve never actually seen a Fast and Furious film until this Saturday, when my friend Robin invited me out to see it because she knew (due to another friend of ours) that I have this positively unhealthy thing about Jason Statham, or rather, the way Jason Statham wears ties.
No, let me back this up. The actual first thing you should know is that the Rock punches a predator drone in the face with an ambulance and then walks down the street whilst wielding a chain gun. THEN you should understand my complete innocence of these movies up until two days ago. And let me tell you, now I am probably going to go back and watch the rest of them because I can’t help myself, even if they cannot possibly be as good as this masterpiece of sheer, explodey glee.
I had no idea who the characters were, or their back stories, or anything. It did not matter one bit. Part of that is because the script actually did an incredibly good job of introducing us to the characters and their relationships with a lot of economy. Part of it is that it had a good heist movie set up, so you could just see the character archetypes and that would tell you enough to understand their interactions. And part of it is you really don’t need to know anything about a character when said character is played by the Rock or Vin Diesel or Michelle Rodriguez or Jason Statham. You just know that some fucking magic is about to happen. (Though if you really cannot mentally handle the thought of going into the seventh movie of a series blind, here’s a hilarious recap, thanks to Sunil for the link.)
Cars get jumped out of airplanes. Cars get jumped between buildings. The Rock flexes off a fucking fiberglass cast and then exchanges the world’s most adorable fistbump with a little girl. Michelle Rodriguez has a knock-down drag-out off the hook amazeballs brawl in a ballgown with Ronda Rousey, who is also wearing a ballgown and has shoulders that speak to my yeah I look like a fucking linebacker too soul. (And it is a real fight, there is no hair pulling cat fight bullshit, and no panty shots.) Jason Statham is Jason Statham in the most Jason Statham way imaginable and wears a tie like a motherfucker. The best hacker ever is a woman of color with absolutely gorgeous hair.
Of the team of absolutely flawless badass heroes, only one of them is white. (And the villain is Statham, by the way.) Of the two women, one of them face punches her way to glory, the other hacks the planet, and neither of them get raped or threatened with sexualized violence. No one gets tortured. No one gets turned into a punchline because of their race or gender. The heroes are basically a multi-racial, close-knit, created family that stick together in a way completely devoid manufactured conflict. There is nothing dark or gritty about this movie, thank fuck. It is pure, high-octane, cracked-out joy on screen, a movie that says hey guys no really it’s okay to unironically enjoy things. The only complaint I could have is that I would have liked a lot fewer ass-tracking bikini bottom shots of women, but even that seemed perfunctory like oh yes, this is a Fast and Furious movie, we should some scantily clad female scenery, now back to Michelle Rodriguez getting ready to fuck someone up.
The plot is ridiculous, but it’s ridiculous in a way that’s easy to follow. Jason Statham wants to kill Vin Diesel because Vin Diesel did a thing in another movie and who cares, because it means that cars are getting dropped out of an airplane so that the crew can rescue the hacker with amazing hair (Ramsey) for grown up Jack Burton. And then grown up Jack Burton then helps Vin Diesel and his crew hunt down Jason Statham. That’s it. The rest is little kinks in that straight line path to justify Michelle Rodriguez kicking the shit out of a bunch of super competent female body guards.
And that’s kind of my point, here. The plot is ridiculous in the way that Hercules doing his twelve labors is ridiculous, and equally epic. Furious 7 is a myth given cinematic form. It does not give a shit about your realism or your physics, because those things are beside the point. It’s actually the least bloody action movie I’ve seen in a long time. People get shot, but for the most part all you see in the aftermath is a bit of red on someone’s shirt. The Rock gets thrown through every piece of glass in a seven block radius by Jason Statham, and he looks like he lost a fight with a sheet of paper and isn’t even dusty. It’s a wink at us all that we are really, really not meant to take this seriously. Hercules strangled the Nemean Lion to death after hitting it with a club; Vin Diesel does much the same, only instead of a club he has an enormous wrench. Dom, Brian, Tej, Letty, Roman, Ramsey, Hobbs; they’re all figures worthy of being immortalized in myth.
And the last five minutes, when the movie turns around and punches you directly in the feelings as the cast says goodbye to Paul Walker in the best way imaginable somehow only adds to it. It’s fucking beautiful, and I’m unashamed to admit that I cried. At a Fast and Furious movie.
If you don’t like this movie because you’re sick of the women as gyrating scenery thing, I can understand that. But if you don’t like this movie because it’s silly and unrealistic? You’re missing the point, and you’re wrong.