13 April 2015

Lucky Number 7

I was once camping in a field with my friends because we couldn't afford real holidays at the time. It was the middle of the night and we were all a little drunk when suddenly there was a loud crashing sound. A car veered straight off the road, into the air, through the surrounding fence and onto our campsite. It was the most exciting thing ever! Quickly, we campers surrounded the intruding vehicle like a cross between the Top Gear audience and The Lord Of The Flies. Obviously a few people helped the driver but most of us were just there for a good bit of lollygagging to make the evening go quicker. In fact, there was an empty baby seat in the car which led most people to believe that a child must have been catapulted out of the vehicle like a fucking Looney Tunes cartoon. As the hunt began for the non-existent child, the police turned up and dragged the driver off for being quite obviously as pissed as a fart. This is the reality of car accidents- and also one of the main reasons that the Fast And Furious franchise is so absurdly over the top that Vin Diesel could shit out a whole Gremlin halfway through the film and it wouldn't be any more ridiculous. Within about half an hour, the incident was over, we were back by our tents and drinking cheap cider as a way of convincing ourselves that we really were having fun.  


Convincing yourself you're having fun however is not something that's required for Fast and Furious 7. In all honesty, I've not seen the first few films in this franchise and I almost have no intention of doing so. I jumped on board when they became more self-aware to their own absurdness and as a result, formed one of the greatest comedic partnerships of the last few years. Every double act requires a 'straight' man which, in this case, would be Vin Diesel, who seems to think the films are actually good. If you check out his recent comments, he seems completely convinced that this new film deserves to win an Oscar at next years Academy Awards. If there was a category for 'Most Ridiculous Film To Feature A Man Who Looks Like A Camel Carved Out Of A Potato' then maybe I'd agree, but there isn't and so I don't. Thankfully this obliviousness works well with his cinematic comedy partner- which is the entire fucking franchise itself. Whilst he's wandering about convinced he's made something of real quality, the movie just seems to be sticking two fingers up at him like a mischievous but simple child. The franchise is now essentially a live action, artistic adaptation of that old cartoon Pinky And The Brain, but with The Brain being played by the human spud and Pinky being played by the movie.  

So this time, the plot involves those street racers from the first film being recruited by Kurt Russell who seems to have confused them with the fucking A-Team. Their mission, should they choose to understand it, is to track down a device known as 'The God's Eye', which is presumably a more catchy name than Mr Potato Head's Crazy MacGuffin. Essentially the thing they're after is a giant tracking device which allows you to find anybody on the planet within a couple of hours, however having watched the movie, I have literally no idea why they needed it at all. The set up to the film is that The Stath wants revenge for them shoving his brother out of an aeroplane in that section of the previous film that involved a runway that was longer than most countries. They say they need the device so that they can find him and kill him, but they seem to forget that he's the one that's chasing them. They don't need to find him as they literally spend the bulk of the movie running away from him. In fact, there are several scenes here where they're racing to get this God's Eye whilst trying to escape him as he's right behind them pointing a gun. You don't need the giant tracker you fucking idiots... just get out of your car and fight him! 

Alas, like I say, the stupider these films become and the more Vin Diesel is oblivious, the more fun I'll be having. Maybe it was just end of term at the Spy Headquarters and so, as a laugh, Kurt Russell and his team thought it'd be fun to trick these car-racing idiots into a series of increasingly moronic suicide missions. Either way I don't care. What I do care about is that I got to see a film in which a car drives through three skyscrapers, parachutes out of plane, flies off a mountain and even somersaults into a helicopter. This is a film which starts with Jason Statham having destroyed a hospital and ends with The Rock walking through the streets whilst shooting a fucking mini-gun. What started off as a series about car-orientated criminals is ending here with a thirty minute set-piece in which the gang are tracked down by one of the aerial Hunter-Killers from the fucking Terminator franchise. The world is a complicated, shit, mundane place to live and so for a few hours it's nice to switch off your brain and get stabbed in the eyes with these massive shots of pure joy. 

That's not to say that this film is perfect of course. Well, fucking hell- it's far from perfect, but within it's own world where the normal rules of good and bad are a confusing combination of each other, I do have a few criticisms. Firstly, I didn't get enough of either The Rock or The Stath for my liking. As far as charismatic action stars who revel in the ridiculous go, I think that those two are the King Kong and Godzilla of that kind of bollocks and I wanted to see my 'versus' movie. Perhaps though this is my own issue and I should be judging the film for what it is and not what I wanted it to be. They might not be as prominent as I'd like but they do still get their moments of insane glory, so I can't moan too much. My personal favourite was when The Rock was blown up and so flew straight out of a tower window like a fucking cannonball made of steak before landing on a wonderfully soft car about two hundred feet below. Although speaking of the action, I think another issue might be within the execution of the fighting which suffered from unnecessary close-ups and fast editing to the point where it was sometimes hard to see what was going on. Obviously Diesel and The Stath have a few fist fights but because of this you can't really see much more than their big bald heads bouncing up and down. If you can imagine a big titted woman going out for a jog then you can pretty much imagine what these fights looked like.  

I also really, really hate the lingering shots of semi-naked women's arses and montages of bland looking models frolicking in foam and screaming like lobotomised groupies at a festival of slags. It's just an unashamed level of misogyny that makes me cringe and seems to be one of the few things that the franchise has forgotten to do with irony. Not only is this hugely derogatory but it also makes me feel really uncomfortable to think that I'm in a cinema full of old men and teenaged boys and the film is literally trying to give them an erection. As well as this, Furious 7 is the first American film to feature the psychotically good Tony Jaa and then it completely wastes the opportunity. He might be one of the world's leading cinematic martial artists but to Hollywood he's just Foreign Goon Number 1. I suppose the same can be said of Gina Carano in the previous film too though. She's a woman able to kill wild rhinos with just her thighs and without spilling her drink and yet all they had her do was stand next to The Rock for two hours. Although, there are of course worse places to stand! I should also say that although all of these were issues for me, they didn't detract from the shear enjoyment of what was going on on-screen. I should also point out that I don't think these films are badly made. Like with the previous two, they're clearly so creatively stupid that they have to have been written by somebody with a brain. They're not so crap that you can't help but laugh, but rather they're more of a live action cartoon that gets more hilarious the more it deviates from plausibility, whilst being anchored to reality by it's deluded lead star.  

Of course though there is an obvious elephant in the room here. As everybody will know, this is the movie in which star Paul Walker was tragically killed after recreating the title of the franchise on his drive home from a charity event. As such, this is actually the first movie in this series to have any real substance behind it. The film is about family being killed and as such, the quieter moments have a much more sombre tinge to them. Sadly, I did find myself slightly playing a game of 'spot the fake Paul Walker' and its obvious-ness when they're re-using footage or CG'ing his mush onto a double's body. There are so many shots in which he throws his young son in front of his face through joy that you'd think his partner had given birth to a fucking facehugger. However, what choice did the team behind this film have? Considering the situation they found themselves in, they have done a remarkable job at not only completing the film but also creating a fitting send-off for both the character and actor.  

If I'm completely honest, I didn't really care about Walker before the crash. Had he simply decided to give up on acting and disappear from public conciousness then it really wouldn't have bothered me one little bit. However it's obviously sad when anybody dies and it's hard not to get caught up in the way that this film perfectly weaves a tribute to him into its conclusion. It wasn't the fact that a man had died that really bothered me though, but rather realising that this was Diesel's way of saying 'goodbye' to his best friend. The only way this could have been more emotional would have been if they had Walker and Diesel's characters drive off a cliff like Thelma And Louise as a voice-over softly confirms that “We are Groot”. This franchise literally couldn't be stupider if featured a cameo from Danny Trejo dressed as a lizard and shooting bees from of his craggily Mexican eyes and yet it ends with me empathising with the genuine pain of a man in mourning. Fast And Furious 7 isn't going to change the world but by accident I think it's the closest the franchise has come to making an actually good film and regardless of legitimate quality, there's no denying how fun it is. It's like eating a pizza that's dripping in cheese and is topped with more dead animals than I even knew existed. I know that there are better foods out there and that this is probably no good for me but I can't help but fucking enjoy it all the same. Thanks for reading motherfuckers and see you next time!

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