Furious 7: Paul Walker’s emotional last ride

In the seventh installment of the Fast and Furious series, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), and the rest of their closely knit racers face one of their toughest enemies yet, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham).  Shaw was on a mission to avenge his crippled brother, Owen Shaw, who was severely injured in the sixth film.  In the mix of this, Toretto and his crew find themselves helping the US government and the elusive Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) to steal a terrorist program called God’s Eye from the Somalian terrorist Jakarde.  God’s Eye was a program created by computer hacker Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) and used the camera on every device worldwide to track any person the user desired.  To make matters even worse for Toretto, his girlfriend, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) struggled to remember him after a near fatal car crash in the fourth film.  However, it was hard for the viewer to sympathize for Toretto because Vin Diesel did a subpar job in expressing the pain and anguish Toretto had to have been feeling.

When Diesel was not driving cars off cliffs or body-slamming his enemies (somehow remaining unscathed throughout the entire movie, despite breaking the laws of physics and doing at least twenty death-defying acts per scene), Diesel just looked confused and uncomfortable.  There were countless dramatic close ups of Diesel ruined by his eternally perplexed expression.  Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who played Hobbs, was in the movie for just a few scenes and gave an acting performance better than Diesel’s, but still not incredible.  Nonetheless, in a movie where the focus is high speed car chases and intense fight scenes, subpar acting can be overlooked, especially when other actors, such as, Ludacris, who played Tej, and lesser known actor, Tyrese Gibson, who played Roman, gave surprisingly good acting performances.  Iggy Azalea, who was in the movie for roughly fifteen seconds did a beautiful job executing her role as Female Racer.

Perhaps it is the fact that the emphasis of the movie was violence and action that helped it survive without the late Paul Walker.  Walker passed away in November 2013 when he was involved in a fatal car crash.  The death of Walker shook the world as millions felt the pain of this loss.  The directors had no choice but to halt production of Furious 7 in early December 2013.  However, the filming continued in April 2014, and the last eight weeks were shot without Walker.  Producing a film without one of the lead actors seems like a dauntless and impossible task, especially because Walker gave an amazing acting performance in the past six movies and the portion of the seventh he filmed before his untimely death.

Going into the theater as viewers we felt like the transition between the late Walker and his brothers, Caleb and Cody Walker, would be awkward, unsettling, and more than anything upsetting.  However, James Wan, the director, made it work. During the halt in filming, Wan hired Peter Jackson, who is famous for his production of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings series as well as Caesar in Planet of the Apes.  Jackson was able to use a mix of CGI and carefully chosen camera angles to simulate Walker’s appearance.  Caleb and Cody acted as the body of Walker, while his face and voice were computer-generated.  Although this technique worked excellently in Furious 7, it is doubtful that Jackson would have been able to execute it as flawlessly in another two hour movie, and the movie concluded with a tribute to Walker showing his character’s development and iconic moments from past Fast and Furious films. This approach might seem as though it would be an awkward end to an action film, but it ended up being a wonderful, heartfelt way to honor Walker’s memory.  Plus, the inclusion of the now hit song ‘See You Again’ by Wiz Khalifa made the tribute quite the tearjerker.

With the exception of the final montage, it is unquestionable that the focuses of Furious 7, and all movies in the Fast and Furious franchise, are violence, crime, and action. Had the movie involved lengthy dialogues between actors or required extensive acting, the transition between Walker and his brothers would have been much more challenging.  Fortunately, for this film the transition was successful and Furious 7 became the sixth highest grossing film of all time.

Overall, Furious 7 was a well-done action film and tribute to Walker, with its excellently executed fight scenes, intense action scenes, and brilliant special effects, and is definitely a movie worth watching.