This weekend the seventh entry in the Fast and Furious franchise was released, topping box offices around the world and grossing almost $400 million.
Starring Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, and Nathalie Emmanuel, and featuring a partially digitized posthumous performance from Paul Walker, it has cemented the popularity of the 14-year old franchise and left us all wondering where they could possibly go next.
We (Daniel Dalton and Hannah Jewell) went to see it, and here's what we learned...
Daniel Dalton: Where do we start? I mean there was a lot going on here. Feelings, mostly.
Hannah Jewell: I just rewatched the trailer and even that had my heart racing with the fire of a thousand burning cars.
DD: I just listened to the end credits song and am openly weeping in the office. Shall we begin with a plot summary?
HJ: I’m too emotional for a plot summary.
DD: I will try: This is the saddest street car–racing spy thriller heist movie you'll ever see.
DD: I’d seen – and loved – the whole series. But you didn’t know anything, right?
HJ: Nope. I was vaguely aware of the franchise, but what was great was that I didn’t need to have seen any of them. And for that matter, I never have to see another film again. Of any kind. This movie had everything that a movie should have.
DD: This is a movie that is every movie at once. It’s the uber-film. It’s got explosions, romance, stunts, cars, thrills, fights, chases, guns, jiggling buns, cars, fights, questionable gender politics, guns, heists, intrigue, mystery, terrorism, The Rock. Cars.
HJ: It is every movie that ever was and ever will be. So now I’m done. I’ve seen it all.
DD: It’s also a two-hour love letter to one of the greatest bromances in cinema history. It kinda destroyed me.
HJ: OK plot. So the opening was the bit with Jason Statham breaking into The Rock's office and blowing it up?
DD: Nope, that was the second thing. So many things happened in this film. The opening was Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) taking Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) to Race Wars, a huge street car–racing event in the desert that the plot of the first film centered around. Because she has lost her memory. Because she nearly died. And then she was evil for a while. Oh god there’s a lot of backstory to get through. It’s a nice nod to fans, though.
HJ: So this opening scene had me a little bit like "hnnnggg" because, like, this was peak jiggling lady-bum, and we were sat next to a 7-year-old girl and this concerned me, you know, for our children. I mean not our children, the proverbial children.
DD: Yeah that small group of preteens right next to us really amplified every moment of cringe.
HJ: Like, there was a good five seconds of an attractive young lady jiggling her bottom in erotic abandon 40 feet across on the big screen in front of these four little girls and their tired father.
DD: Jiggling buns is one thing, but when Iggy Azalea turned up I just feared for our future. And the future of our children. And the future of cinema. And the future of music.
HJ: But then, there was Michelle Rodriguez effortlessly surpassing some guy in a drag race, and in life presumably, and I’m like, yeah, women can excel in motor sports, kids. Remember that.
DD: And the only actual street race in the the film. A film franchise that started off about street racing, but is now literally every single genre of film. All in one. They threw in a kitchen sink and then exploded the fuck out of that kitchen sink.
HJ: I enjoyed the fact that because this franchise stretches over 14 years they have to keep the same actors, so Hollywood was forced to have age-appropriate women as the romantic interests. Because women and men age at the same rate IRL.
DD: Vin Diesel is 11 years older than Michelle Rodriguez. He’s 47, she’s 36.
HJ: Lol. Well. Still better than what you usually see.
DD: Way to go, Fast and Furious franchise, with your slightly better age demographics.
HJ: Not to mention that this series quite easily passes the Bechdel test. So I went from general dismay at the relentlessly jiggling ladybits at the beginning, to quiet pleasure at a weirdly empowering film for women at the end. Anyway, explosions.
DD: So this film is – deep breath – ostensibly about a National Security Agency–style spy software MacGuffin written by a ~sexy~ hacker that our ragtag (and insanely wealthy, thanks to an earlier heist) team of street-car racers are tasked by a shadowy government agency to retrieve from an African terror group so they can use it to track down the brother of the man they fought in the last film played by Jason Statham who is now trying to kill the gang one by one and he’s really well trained and shit.
HJ: Yeah I didn’t know WTF was happening but it didn’t even matter.
DD: They wasted a lot of time talking about plot and I was just like, DO EXPLOSIONS. DO EXPLOSIONS WITH CARS.
HJ: AND JUMP THEM OUT OF PLANES AND DRIVE THEM DOWN CLIFFS AND INTO SKYSCRAPERS AND SHIT. Oh god it was so gooooodddddd.
DD: And you haven’t seen the other six! I mean they’ve been building up to this. They've been slowly replacing plausibility with explosions and it has been glorious to watch. And now they’re like, FUCK THIS NOISE WE’RE GONNA JUMP A SUPER CAR BETWEEN TWO SKYSCRAPERS. AND THEN BETWEEN A SECOND TWO SKYSCRAPERS. LOL.
HJ: Yeah, I didn’t know how the past films compared, but the entire theatre was screaming in ecstasy throughout the whole movie so I took it they were satisfied.
DD: People were cheering and clapping. It was insane. Like, at what point do you think someone said, "I’M BORED OF ROADS BECAUSE ROADS ARE FUCKING STUPID; LET’S HAVE THEM THEM DRIVING IN THE SKY."
HJ: I felt like they were driving in the sky way longer than that should actually take. And with enough peace of mind to fill that time with witty banter.
DD: They were mad chill while skydiving in cars. SKY-DRIVING.
HJ: Like, “This is how I do my weekly shop, what’s the big deal?”
DD: “We started on the street now we here.”
HJ: I would have loved to see the writers dream this stuff up.
DD: I feel like the writers room didn’t have a table, just a mountain of cocaine on which they rested their laptops and/or buried their faces in periodically.
HJ: I feel like they wrote this movie in a writers room that was actually falling from the sky at terminal velocity, and they had only a few minutes before hitting the ground to write the whole thing and deploy the parachute, in that order.
DD: Cocaine is a hell of a drug.
HJ: Just like *SNORTS* “OH MY GOD, BEN, WHAT IF CARS COULD FLY?!”
DD: **SNIFFFFFF** “YOU KNOW WHAT FLIES? DRONES! DRONES ARE TOTALLY A THING – LET'S HAVE A DRONE AND OR DRONES IN THIS MOVIE. AND AN ATTACK CHOPPER. FUCK, REMEMBER AIRWOLF? I FUCKING LOVE AIRWOLF. AND COCAINE. OH GOD MY SEPTUM.”
HJ: Next thing you know there’s nose blood all over the pages.
DD: It’s the only way to write. But in all seriousness the writer, Chis Morgan, is the same talented professional who has written each movie in the series since the third one, and his script combines imagination with years of experience and craft.
HJ: Really though, this movie just serves to show that money really can buy you happiness. Like these writers had their childlike ideas and dreams that made no sense but are beautiful in their impossibility, but they had $250 million to make a film, and when you have $250 million to spend, dreams really do come true. So that’s the takeaway.
DD: Money is brilliant.
HJ: What was your favourite bit of all this drug-addled madness?
DD: Can I just say all of it? I mean it’s no Fast Five, but no film is. This was close enough.
HJ: Wait this isn't even the best one?
DD: Fast Five was the Empire Strikes Back of the franchise. It's hard to top perfection. But this one was great too. I mean, what's not to enjoy?
HJ: Seriously. Humans are just hardwired to enjoy a two-hour-long adrenaline rush. I needed a lie-down by the end.
DD: Probably my favourite bit was after the sky-driving episode, when Paul Walker was on the bus hanging off the cliff, and he runs along the bus as it starts falling and jumps and grabs the spoiler of Michelle Rodriguez’s car as she pulls a huge drift along the cliff edge. Everyone in the audience was gasping.
HJ: My fave was the skyscrapers, because fuck skyscrapers, fuck capitalism, fuck gravity, fuck logic, and not a single civilian casualty at the end of all that mayhem. Oh and fuck the patriarchy.
DD: The Abu Dhabi tourism board was like, "WE DON'T CARE IF IT MAKES SENSE, JUST MAKE US LOOK COOL WE HAVE TO COMPETE WITH DUBAI AND THEY HAD TOM CRUISE CLIMBING A SKYSCRAPER IN MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 4."
HJ: This was shortly after two hench-as-fuck women (Michelle Rodriguez and UFC fighter Ronda Rousey) beat the shit out of each other in stilettos, which quite frankly was all I want for my future daughters. And those little girls sitting next to us. I kept glancing at them like, “PAY ATTENTION TO THIS BIT GIRLS. THIS IS A METAPHOR FOR THE ASS YOU WILL KICK SOME DAY.”
DD: That fight was glorious. It was like, you can wear a ball gown and beat the living fuck out of each other, women of the world.
HJ: If you have the right hosiery, a dependable hairspray, and a can-do attitude. Lean in, ladies!
DD: Yeah you don’t wanna go commando when you go commando, if you catch my drift.
HJ: Your Tokyo Drift.
DD: Paul Walker had only completed about half of the film before he died and they doubled him with his brothers and digital effects and such. I remember you saying after that you didn't notice.
HJ: Nope because I am a simple gal who moved to a big city and doesn’t understand digital floating faces.
DD: I guess I was looking for it. There were a lot of scenes where he was turning away from the camera in the background or playing with his child, and picking the kid up so it obscures his face.
DD: I’m not sure if you noticed, but there was a bit right at the beginning where Paul Walker’s double picks his kid up and the kid throws a toy red Porsche on the ground, and the camera lingers on it a second, and it made me a little uncomfortable. Like, "YES I GET THE REFERENCE THANKS."
HJ: Oof yes that’s rough.
DD: And you could tell a large part of the opening of the film had been rewritten, just because not many of the scenes had Paul Walker in. It was characters talking about him, sort of setting up this ending to his part in the franchise.
HJ: Yeah it forced them to do a bit of acting, didn’t it? Oh, the acting.
DD: Nobody showed up for the acting. Which is good.
HJ: The Paul Walker and whats-her-face romantic bits were so cringe.
DD: Jordana Brewster.
HJ: Yes. Especially all the bits when he’s ~romantically rejecting domesticity~. Or when he drops off his kid with the teacher and he’s like, “Soz I’m new at this!” and I’m like, mate, your kid is 5.
DD: The worst for me was scenes between Diesel and Rodriguez. When she was like “I don’t remember any of this, I need to find myself” and Diesel is all “I love you, and love is all you need. I have a very deep voice and anger issues, but trust me.”
HJ: Oh yes. I HATE it when they think that love is all you need. Especially towards the end when there is someone in need of very real CPR, and they’re doing CPR, but then they’re like, STOP IT, LET’S TRY LOVE INSTEAD. And can I say that as a former lifeguard I was livid. FRIENDS, you do not need LOVE when your breathing and/or heart has stopped. You need a cycle of 30 compressions to the middle of the chest followed by two breaths, repeated until qualified emergency responders arrive on the scene.
DD: All I can say is that as a former lifeguard I just walked around getting a tan and doing literally zero CPR so I can’t take the moral high ground here.
HJ: Fuck’s sake, Dan.
DD: If you’re not doing CPR it means you’re lifeguarding right. No one should need CPR.
HJ: Christ that’s true, isn’t it? But can we at least agree that in this instance, CPR was 100% needed.
DD: Let's face it: All health and safety protocol was firmly out of the window the second a gunship attack helicopter and military strike drone were chasing the gang around downtown Los Angeles – again with literally zero civilian casualties. But if there was a situation where CPR is now your only option, this is it.
HJ: Message to all movie-making types: If you can spend $250 million to destroy an army of supercars, you can pay a 16-year-old lifeguard $20 to make sure your lead actors follow proper health and safety procedures. Don’t forget to survey the scene for any further danger before administering CPR! And whatever you do, don’t use love. Love will not keep oxygen flowing to your brain while you wait for a defibrillator.
DD: Do your pre-checks, people. And fuck love.
HJ: Speaking of medical marvels, remember The Rock?
DD: Boy, do I.
HJ: When he flexed his way out of a cast? Golden.
DD: I’m not sure what his contractual commitments to this film were. He had a fight at the beginning, went to hospital for most of the running time, then flexed out of his cast, and roamed the streets of Los Angeles with a mini-gun because that’s what this film needed. It’s what every film needs.
HJ: They just needed him for his muscular arms and his general air of not giving a damn.
DD: I feel sorry for Vin Diesel. Like he was the muscle, back in the day, and then they were like, “Hey Vin, you’re looking a little old, so we hired The Rock. Sorry not sorry.”
HJ: They were like, “Vin would never be able to flex his way out of a cast, we have to get The Rock back, because he can definitely do that. And probably already has.”
DD: “We need more People’s Eyebrow up in this motherfucker.”
HJ: I don’t know what that is.
DD: It doesn’t matter.
HJ: You’re looking very pleased with yourself now so I imagine that was an extremely witty reference.
DD: Ask Wyclef.
HJ: I was pretty emotional at the ending and I didn’t even know why. I don’t know who these people are and what belaboured plot arcs got them to where they are today, but it was emosh all the same.
DD: I’m still not over it. I’ll never be over it. The song. The subtext. The Supra.
HJ: It reminded me of my street-racing days, ya know? Back when I was young and carefree and destroying men in drag races. That’d bring a tear to anyone’s eye.
DD: There was a definite line in the sand moment when the film went from PLOT AND EXPLOSIONS to remembering Paul Walker. But it didn’t jar. It was welcome. This is a character we’ve spent six films with, and an actor we lost far too young. What they did was a send off to Paul/Brian, having him drive off into the distance in a white Toyota Supra, the car he drove in the original film. It was lovely moment. A lovely, soul-crushing, messy-crying moment. The montage, and the song, and the real look of mourning on Vin Diesel’s face as he says good-bye.
HJ: Yeah, what you said. So is that it for the franchise? I only just got in to it.
DD: Well clearly you need to go watch Fast Five, which is where the series peaked. But also the door is open. Diesel has already been quoted bouncing ideas around for the next one. This film just made $400 million globally its opening weekend. It’ll probably do a billion. Universal is going to be reluctant to stop making them.
HJ: I mean they could reboot.
DD: They could do a junior version.
HJ: Ooh like all their kids turn 16 and start racing cars out of planes.
DD: They could go Ghostbusters and do an all-women one.
HJ: With jiggly man buns to set the scene. Would watch.
DD: Is there anything you’d like to add?
HJ: Yes, and it’s a link to an instructional website about proper CPR administration. It’ll save a life, kids.
DD: Also probably something about cocaine dependency and the dangers therein.
HJ: Here’s another one about the importance of seatbelts and responsible driving.
DD: Also skydiving.
DD: Stay in school, kids.
HJ: Go see this film. Take your friends.
DD: "I don’t have friends. I got family." And other such grammatically unsound quotes. RIP Paul Walker.
Note: Fast & Furious 7 is the international title. The film is marketed as Furious 7 in the US.