Sunday, April 19, 2015

Fast & Furious 7 ★★

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    "Fast & Furious 7" is not only a substandard film, but it exemplifies the poor taste in entertainment that the general audiences of the United States have obviously become accustomed to. Are we really going to sit here--looking through an objective lens--and praise this picture? I for one will not succumb to this mystifying unfaithfulness with regard to the filmmaking industry, and any contemporary of mine who deems this "the best of the franchise," or as a superb film altogether, is clearly delirious and would not know a quality action picture if it walked up and smacked them directly in their untenanted noggins.

    If anything, the "Fast & Furious" franchise has become nothing more than a drawn out soap opera, complete with storylines infused with outrageous heists, crackdowns on crime and drug lords, tales of revenge--and what has become a faint whisper over the last several films--a focus on street racing and swift automobiles. (The glamorous cars are still present mind you, however, they act as more of a prop than a catalyzer; the emphasis has now been placed on stunts and action sequences that the resident actors would never be able to execute in actuality.)

    Additionally, character's deaths have been rectified, links have been tied to previous films (which have subsequently been shifted in sequence to essentially create a script), and the budget has expanded in a blatant effort to supply audiences with more foolishness and less imagination. The newest installment is rather loyal to this formula, although fresh faces do make an appearance and the final product recalls the phrase "over-the-top" more so than before.

    For those of you who have actually kept up with this helter skelter series of films, here is the summarized plot:

    After renegade mercenary Owen Shaw passes away in a coma, his older sibling, and trained assassin, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), appears to exact revenge. Shaw, who is coined as a "legitimate English badass," first encounters Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), a current DSS agent and ally to our main protagonists. The ensuing battle, which features a poorly filmed fighting sequence, leaves Hobbs in the hospital until further notice, and Shaw escapes to continue his manhunt.

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    From here, the film makes ties to the third installment and centers on this feud between Shaw and the team that killed his brother. Enter Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), a nonchalant government agent of sorts, who now proposes that Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his group of flunkies shift their attention to a device called the "God's eye," which utilizes digital technology all over the world, including mobile phone cameras, to track down specific targets. (This is not only unethical, but it would seem to be a poor satire of the government's ambition to exploit the population to achieve executive objectives.)

    In turn, Toretto will have full access to this instrument in order to find Shaw, even though the latter is in a constant search for the team himself. The acquiring of this gadget will lead to numerous scenes of disbelief, including a rescue sequence that features parachuting vehicles from an airplane--which is as entertaining as it is preposterous--and a scene in which a high-powered automobile leaps through three skyscrapers in an outburst of absurdity.

    What we essentially have here is an ensemble cast, which has its moments, yet they are ultimately drowned out by a less than stellar script and by enough explosions to make even Michael Bay seem rather reserved. There is the Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) subplot, which not only adds little depth to the story, but serves as more of a distraction than anything. When the film attempts to inject moments of sentimentality, it not only disrupts the flow of action, but it places a strain on the actors, particularly Vin Diesel, who certainly lacks any sense of emotion.

    I understand that action stars are quite opposed to the subtle techniques of those in drama, yet even with a dialogue consisting of nothing but one-liners, Diesel seems to be in a realm of bewilderment. To put the performance into context, I have seen more conviction in a high school rendition of "Robin Hood."
    There is a moment in the picture in which our lovable cast of characters come face-to-face with the enemy and have the opportunity to conclude what has been a dreary production. Of course, however, this never happens, and we are left to endure a half hour resolution that evokes a feeling of torment. The late poet Edgar Allen Poe once put forth the notion that a short story should be capable of being read in one sitting; the same idea applies to film. "Fast & Furious 7" not only refuses to end a terrible outing, but it adds further injury to an already tender wound. If there is one aspect of the picture that could serve as an indicator of its incoherence, it would certainly be the numerous sequences in which the art of editing was seemingly forgotten. Editing does serve a purpose, and even films of this caliber should be able to accommodate.

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