The good news is that Furious 7 offers more -- and more -- of the same. The series prides itself on scaling grander heights of craziness each time, and that's part of what fans love about it: The 1,001 instances of shock-absorber abuse include pinwheel turns executed inside an Abu Dhabi skyscraper and a rather sweet ode to one of the series' great grandpappies, The Italian Job, in which a long, squarish buslike vehicle perches on the brink of oblivion, almost taking with it the late Paul Walker's Brian O'Conner.
Dizzying stuff happens in Furious 7, and there are probably more instances of airborne cars than in any other single movie in the series. (This is the only modern movie franchise that owes a serious debt to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.) There's something marvelously freeing about watching objects that were meant to hug the road soar through the heavens. Plus, these moments of floating freedom are a respite from the predictably A.D.D.-choppy editing.
Like its forebears, this movie -- directed by junior horror kingpin James Wan (The Conjuring) -- has a characteristically throwaway plot, with a few new faces. Jason Statham swaggers around, and a suave, suit-wearing Kurt Russell pops in to reassemble Brian O'Conner's old gang for, you know, one last job.
But this Furious 7 is more poignant than any other action movie in modern memory, for the simple reason that this really will be Brian's one last job. The series' core characters have always been its lifeblood, and the ending of Furious 7, which pays tribute to Walker, is one of the most straightforward and yet most touching final shots I've seen at the movies in years.
Director: James Wan
Writer: Chris Morgan and Gary Scott Thompson
Producer: Vin Diesel, Neal H. Moritz and Michael Fottrell
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jason Statham and Nathalie Emmanuel