by ALEX CARNEVALE
director James Wan
On the night Paul Walker died, Vin Diesel ate the following: six scones, a generous cut of lamb, ice cream and a bald eagle. Afterwards, he felt bloated, but not too bloated to perform his signature role of Dominic Toretto. As Dominic, Diesel drives a car off a mountain, drives a car through several Abu Dhabi skyscrapers, killing various pedestrians in the process, and finally drives a car off a ramp into a helicopter. He survives all these collisions without any medical attention whatsoever. You will be forgiven for asking yourself the following question, the same question Jon Hamm's wife asks herself on a hourly basis: "Is he bragging?"
Diesel's head looks like it is on the verge of expanding so far sideways that he will become a deft mixture of Juggernaut and Stevie Van Zandt. Shortly before Vin drives that car into the helo, a CGI representation of Paul Walker fights an Asian guy. Walker's scenes were assembled by cutting in other scenes from the movie, using his brothers as stunt doubles and copious CGI. The end result is both technically impressive and entirely lacking, since it looks as close as it can to real while we know it is fake. The Uncanny Valley was the original nickname for Diesel at Harvard.
The right move would have been to kill off Paul Walker's character, to show that insane stunts with vehicles, and often just regular driving, can frequently lead to death. Then again, watching Diesel grunt his way through a dense forest in a muscle car while Jason Statham's face looks like an emote is probably enough of a PSA instructing us that no one should ever get behind the wheel again.
The recent analysis of the Furious 7 audience proved that the massive audience for these films is mainly non-white. Furious 7 is a lot more about class, however, attempting to prove that a professional behavior and attitude is not necessarily the best way of accomplishing our goals as a society. About an hour into the movie, Kurt Russell, 64, shows up as if to put the exclamation point on this moving theme.
Kurt's skin looks like a sesame bagel, and he is weirdly miscast in a Judi Dench-like role. Besides the incredibly unversatile Statham, the only other villain of any interest is portrayed by Djimon Hounsou, 50. Because he is the sole person in the cast with even the most basic level of acting ability, he sticks out like a sore thumb and sounds ridiculous.
Furious 7 begins when Statham mails a bomb to Vin's house. No one dies (no one ever dies in this movie, they only perish off screen from its themes and poor performances), but Vin is extremely upset. He visits his friend Hobbs in the hospital (a steroid-infected Dwayne Johnson) who gives him instructions on how to avenge The Rock's broken arm.
Vin, his amnesia-stricken GF (Michelle Rodriguez, 36, looking embarrassed to be a part of this) and his friends Ludacris and Tyrese all drop out of an airplane, already in their cars, into Azerbaijan. They land on a steep mountain road. Paul Walker almost dies right then by falling off a cliff, but Michelle drives the back of her car over the edge so he has something to grab onto. "Thank you," he says.
Between action sequences director James Wan includes lengthy phone conversations between Paul Walker and his wife Mia (Jordana Brewster, 34) about how she is pregnant and wants him to be home with her instead of driving around with his friends. In context, this comes off as a criticism of Paul for not spending enough time with his family, and instead hanging around Vin Diesel's rapidly expanding neck all the time.
About fifty percent of Diesel's dialogue is even audible at all, which explains why David Twohy barely had him say a word for the entire first hour of Riddick. Diesel, 47, can barely pull off the climactic fight scene with Statham on the roof of a parking garage, and Statham himself is starting to look a bit slow at the same age.
Things get even worse in Furious 7's finale, however, as after we watch CGI Paul Walker silently play on the beach with a young boy who is not his own, the movie yields to a montage of Walker's scenes from the previous films. All those memorable moments are recalled, like that time he drove a car, and slept with Vin's sister at least twice.
"You're not going to say goodbye?" Michelle Rodriguez asks Vin as the sack of meat strolls off the beach and bracingly lowers himself into yet another vehicle. He tells her that it's never goodbye, implying that he will see Paul again in the afterlife. (There is no way that gasbag is going to heaven if he keeps making these pieces of shit.)
Vin pulls up at a stop sign after that, and who but Paul Walker should pull up alongside him? Yes, they made a street race into the last scene of their movie, played over sappy music about how much they miss their friend. At first I was disgusted and appalled, but then the words "For Paul" were draped over a beautiful white light. Would "Fuck You Paul" have been more appropriate considering the overall tastelessness of this tribute? Sure.
Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.
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