It comes to something when the sight of the Furious Gang launching their fleet of souped-up super cars out of a plane is just another crazy day for a franchise that has well and truly gone into overdrive.
Whether by accident or design, the adventures of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and co have hit upon the perfect formula of cars, cartoon action and complete craziness that has proved to be box office gold dust and all-but guaranteed a further sequel.
While the lurid focus on female flesh would make Michael Bay proud, horror maestro James Wan nevertheless takes the wheel with an assuredness that belies any fan fears that he might fail to step out of the long shadow cast by F&F alumnus Justin Lin.
Wan’s job was made nigh-on impossible with the tragic death of series stalwart Paul Walker. We’ll probably never know what Fast and Furious 7 would have been had its co-lead survived, but the film we have (rewritten to address his departure from the franchise) is a very fitting send off for an actor who got better with each instalment and provides a genuinely moving final scene that will have anyone invested in the series wiping away a tear.
The spectre of death hangs over the film; from the carnage unleashed by ex-special forces hard case Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) as revenge for what happened to his brother Owen (Luke Evans) in F&F 6, to the quieter moments; most hauntingly when Dom’s crew mourn the loss of one of their ‘family’ and Brian (Walker) responds to Tej’s (Ludacris) plea for there to be no more funerals with the prophetic line: “Just one more…”
As well as being Walker’s final movie, F&F 7 also takes the franchise in a whole new direction with the introduction of Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell), leader of a typically well-stocked covert ops unit who offers to help put down Shaw in return for Dom, Brian and the others locating an all-powerful computer program called the ‘God’s eye’.
There are teasings of it here (in particular during a covert infiltration of an Abu Dhabi’s prince’s hotel penthouse party), but one can foresee future films following in the footsteps of Mission: Impossible, with Dom’s crew choosing to accept increasingly outlandish assignments from Mr Nobody.
The addition of Statham to a heaving cast of alpha males adds an extra spice to proceedings. Shaw’s motivations make him dangerous and unpredictable, while his Terminator-esque relentlessness and seeming inability to sustain injury means he’s also fun to have around.
The film is bookended by two satisfyingly titanic fist fights involving Statham; the first (and best) against Diplomatic Security service agent Hobbs (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who doesn’t get nearly enough screen time); and the second with Dom atop a multi-storey car park being besieged by mad-as-a-lorry mercenary Jakande (Djimon Hounsou).
However, it’s the eye-popping motor madness that’s most fun, what with the aforementioned flying cars sequence (nicely referencing an earlier moment when Brian, having spotted his son throwing a toy car out of the window, says “cars don’t fly!”) and an equally unlikely scene when Dom drives off the side of a mountain and thinks nothing of it.
Even this pales in comparison, though, to the truly outrageous sight of Dom and Brian jumping a sports car from one Abu Dhabi skyscraper to another… before doing it again. Quite how they’ll top that one in F&F 8 is anyone’s guess.
Fast and Furious 7 shows there’s still plenty left in the tank of this gloriously absurd franchise so don’t think, just strap yourselves in and enjoy the ride.