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Have no fear! Hollywood summer blockbuster movie season is here! It’s only April, you say? Snow and skiing slowly giving way to Mud Season ruts a’plenty? True enough – but in the theaters, we’re off to a blistering early season action movie extravaganza, marked by the release of the nearly 2 ½ hour adrenalin-powered mayhem that is “Fast and Furious 7.”
For those of you unfamiliar with one of the most successful Hollywood action movie franchises of all time, here’s a quick primer. The seven (?!) “Fast and Furious” films are built on a preposterous proposition: take a merry multiracial posse of sports-car-racing outlaws and watch them evolve into an elite global task force capable of executing the most exotic super-secret spy missions with a nod, a wink and a snap of their uber-buff fingers.
Captained by the gravelly-voiced Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel, all muscle), assisted by FBI rogue agent Bryan O’Conner (the ill-fated actor Paul Walker, who died in a real life car crash as Furious 7 finished filming) and the aptly-named agent Hobbs (franchise-friendly Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the pearly-white-toothed body builder whose biceps are as big as my entire body), the Furious team graduate from desert “race war” car events (FF1) to, in this latest seventh installment, a global race/chase to obtain the “God’s Eye” global surveillance program, designed by “Ramsey” (Nathalie Emmanuel), the sexiest hacker ever seen in a Hollywood film movie (Mark Zuckerberg, eat your heart out).
Along the way, Team FF faces evil villains (Jason Statham plays his “legitimate English badass” character to the hilt) and execute the most spectacular extended stunts ever seen on the silver screen. The two most stunning? A fifteen-minute action sequence that BEGINS with an army of cars parachuting out of a giant transport plane over Azerbaijan’s Caucasus mountains, and ENDS with, well, I don’t want to give it away. How to top this? Drive a sports car at high speed through the near-top of all THREE Etihad Towers in downtown Dubai – one after another – in a tux. Truly. And oh yes, a celebration of the surveillance state – from device-by-device global reconnaissance to the power of drones to track and destroy. U.S. imperial planners must LOVE this film.
Never mind that the acting is mediocre, the plot absurd, the editing clumsy, or that “Escape From New York” B Movie actor Kurt Russell makes an extended appearance (as “Mr. Nobody” – indeed). This is Hollywood, baby! “Furious” has it all: fast cars, short skirts, mountains of bling, super-exotic locations (London, Tokyo, Azerbaijan, Dubai, and the Caribbean) , a killer soundtrack, and a gorgeous cast of characters who are “family” – which is to say, they are loyal to each other to the end. Indeed, ironically, the film’s underlying message is about looking out for family above all else –an odd but oddly home’y statement for an action film of this sort to make.
If any of this sounds appealing, then do NOT miss this film on the big screen. The vertigo-inducing stunts in “Furious 7” are truly spectacular – worth the price of admission, plus the popcorn. And if you are a Furious fan, the cast’s tribute to actor Paul Walker’s passing at film’s finale is truly moving in a strangely powerful way – art mirroring life once again. “Furious 7” sets a very high (and fast) bar for mindless escapist action-adventure this coming blockbuster movie season. Strap on your helmets, buckle your seat belts, and we’ll see you at the movies this summer.