- May 9, 2003
Fast & Furious 7 parachutes its speedsters onto Blu-ray in an edition that offers the movie in solid high definition and includes a generous spread of special features. The movie itself is an entertaining but increasingly outlandish series of stunt sequences that initially defy gravity and wind up defying any sense of logic or physics. There’s a couple of threads of character and plot here to keep things occasionally grounded, but the real attraction here is the array of eye-popping car stunts – everything from an improbable air assault to a series of car jumps that would intimidate Evel Knievel. Fans of the series have already been purchasing this title in droves, particularly given that this is the final movie of series star Paul Walker, who died in a crash in late 2013. More casual viewers may find the action here a bit repetitive, but if you can turn your brain off, this movie definitely provides more than a few solid action beats.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, English DVS 2.0, Spanish 5.1 DTS, French 5.1 DTS
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 2 Hrs. 18 Min. (Theatrical Cut) 2 Hrs. 20 Min. (Extended Cut)
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, UltraViolet
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 09/15/2015
The Production Rating: 3/5
“Owen Shaw: You know, when I was young, my brother used to say, ‘Every man has to have a code.’ Mine: Precision. A team is nothing but pieces you switch out until you get the job done. It’s efficient. It works. But you? You’re loyal to a fault. Your code is about family. And that’s great in the holidays, but it makes you predictable. And in our line of work, predictable means vulnerable. And that means I can reach out and break you whenever I want.
Dom Toretto: At least when I go, I’ll know what it’s for.
Owen Shaw: Well, at least you have a code. Most men don’t. So I’m going to give you a chance. Take your crew and walk away. That’s the only way you’re going to keep your family safe.
Dom Toretto: Your brother never told you never to threaten a man’s family? It’s a pretty stupid thing to do.”
-Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
“Deckard Shaw: You never should have messed with a man’s family.
Dom Toretto: I told your brother the same thing.”
-Fast & Furious 7 (2015)
Fast & Furious 7, almost improbably, is quite an entertaining movie, full of eye-popping car stunts and visual effects that should satisfy most fans of the continuing series as well as many fans of action films. It keeps up the traditions of the long-running series of Vin Diesel/Paul Walker movies, giving the fans a fun setup and gentle way to see the last material shot by Paul Walker before his death in late 2013. (It should not be a spoiler to point out that Walker’s passing resulted in significant rethinking for this project, and that the resulting movie is intended as a bit of a tribute to him.) Once again, the plot finds our hero crew of racers dealing with an over-the-top villain, a Maguffin to keep from the villain, and an increasingly outlandish series of stunt sequences. The cast is attractive, and the locations are wildly varied – ranging from Atlanta (standing in for Los Angeles) to Abu Dhabi. There’s always something interesting to see, and some fast editing to keep things moving along. Anyone dealing with ADD will not have any problems watching this movie. But in spite of the entertainment value, there are some problems with this movie. In the simplest terms, it doesn’t seem to have anything under the hood. And all the outrageous stunts and eye candy cannot hide that problem. It’s a fun movie, certainly worthy of three out of five stars, but nothing more.
SPOILERS HERE: DO NOT READ THIS PARAGRAPH UNTIL YOU HAVE SEEN THE MOVIE. At this point, the Fast & Furious movie series has completed its evolution. When it began in the very early 2000s, the series was centered on car culture – with illegal street races and general criminality providing plot threads on which to showcase plenty of attractive bodies – both human and automotive. As of the fourth movie in 2009, the focus began to shift away from the cars and toward more overt thriller stylings. By the fifth movie in 2011, the focus was on the heist of the moment, with lead character Dominic Toretto’s increasingly large “family” getting themselves into a major caper and using their car culture expertise to get themselves out. Along the way, the family has expanded to include not just Toretto (Vin Diesel) and former Fed Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) but a wide array of friends and loved ones, as well as ultra-macho federal enforcer Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). With Fast & Furious 7, the family is expanded again to include a beautiful hacker (Nathalie Emmanuel) and a shadowy CIA figure, played affably by an older Kurt Russell than viewers may have expected. On the other side of the ledger, we have the large-style villain of the moment. With the current movie, that’s Deckard Shaw (played with enthusiasm by Jason Statham). Fans of the franchise will remember that the prior film, Fast & Furious 6, featured Luke Evans as rival crew leader Owen Shaw, who had snared former (and amnesiac) Toretto associate Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez). By the end of Furious 6, Shaw had been foiled and Letty restored to the Toretto crew, albeit without her memories. Fast & Furious 7 picks up where the last movie left off, kick-starting itself with the introduction of Owen Shaw’s older and more dangerous brother, Deckard (Jason Statham). In short order, the new movie follows Deckard’s revenge against the Toretto crew, a new high-tech Maguffin for the Toretto crew to obtain (hence the new characters played by Emmanuel and Russell), and then the intersection of the first two thoughts. Of course, by this point in the series, the introduction of the new Maguffin reads as a lot more forced than before. One has to wonder how many times this crew is going to be called into action to save the free world…
MORE SPOILERS: To keep things a little grounded, the filmmakers generate two subplots. One follows Letty and Dom’s attempts to bring her memories back. The second deals with Brian’s boredom with being a stay-at-home dad after years of exploits with the Feds and with Toretto’s crew. There’s a little more potential in the former idea, and it’s clear that Diesel and Rodriguez are trying to find some substance here. But it’s all frankly too pat – the answers come too easily. Which is understandable, since the real attraction of the movie isn’t the character work. It’s the big chases and the stunt sequences.
EVEN MORE SPOILERS: Sadly, the big chases and stunt sequences are actually the biggest logical problem in the movie. They’re all executed quite well (with the exception of a few obvious CGI shots that can be jarring), but they make no logical sense whatsoever. It’s as if the filmmakers decided to start off at the outrageous level of the prior movie’s climax and keep building from there. So we start off with a sequence that asks us to believe that Statham’s Deckard Shaw, all by himself, has shot up and destroyed multiple floors of a secure British hospital facility, killed scores of British soldiers, and still has time to have a quiet moment with his younger brother before walking out of the place untouched. It’s an exquisite first shot, seemingly without a cut (there are unseen digital edits, of course), and yet it’s bonkers to think that this event would even be possible. From there, we move on to an impossible multi-story jump accomplished by Hobbs out of a building onto a parked car. Then we have the science fiction of parachuting multiple high performance armored vehicles out of a plane onto a thin mountain road. And there’s the rocket car jumps between skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi. That’s not to mention the notion that Toretto’s muscle car can move faster than a collapsing building, launch 80 feet upward into the skids of a helicopter and then crash downward without killing him. Oh, and we haven’t even mentioned the idea of Michelle Rodriguez surviving a fistfight with Ronda Rousey… (Much of this is covered by a painfully accurate video by College Humor, helpfully entitled “Fast & Furious 7 – with realistic stunts”.)
YET MORE SPOILERS: The problem here is that these sequences, as fun as they can be to watch, are so far over the top and so far away from any sense of reality that the entire enterprise becomes a kind of live action cartoon. Or perhaps an interactive theme park ride – an avenue the series is now offering at various Universal Studios parks. And that may be fine with many viewers. For myself, it’s just so far beyond logic that watching the movie becomes a process of completely suspending belief and disbelief together. There are a few moments where the CGI seams show – the impossible rocket car jumps, Brian’s impossible escape from a cliffhanging RV, even an establishing desert shot of Abu Dhabi while we’re at it. But it’s not just the CGI that gives away the unreality. It’s the fact that the sequences we’re seeing are flat out impossible – rather than seeing a thriller with a few pushes beyond the bounds, we’re seeing a complete fantasy where cars really can fly. When you look at the full assembly of all these sequences in order, it really feels like the filmmakers are spending more time trying to outrageously top themselves each time than asking whether any of these scenes are believable or possible. The lack of anything beyond surface character sketches (in spite of the attempt to go a little deeper) means that the experience of watching Fast & Furious 7 may be exhilarating but is ultimately an empty one.
There’s one other area of the movie that really should be discussed here – that being the accidental death of Paul Walker when the movie had only been half-completed in 2013. Leaving behind the tragic irony of Walker’s death (he was killed while in a car driving far above safe speeds on a local street in Valencia), the filmmakers were presented with a sad dilemma. They still needed to complete several sequences that Walker had not yet filmed. The answer was to bring in Walker’s brothers, who resemble him, and to use some judicious CGI to help blend the minimized number of shots they did. At some times, the CGI seams show here – particularly one major close-up, but in the overall, the filmmakers have found a decent and tasteful way to handle the loss of the actor.
Fast & Furious 7 has been released simultaneously on Blu-ray and standard definition as of last week. The Blu-ray has everything from the standard DVD, and adds high definition picture and sound, along with several Blu-ray exclusive featurettes.
I should note that two versions of the film are available on the Blu-ray. One is the theatrical version, rated PG-13. The other is an unrated extended version, running two minutes longer.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
Fast & Furious 7 is presented in a 1080p AVC 2.40:1 transfer (@ an average 20 mbps) that brings in multiple environments and flesh tones in a vivid and satisfying manner. As noted before, there are some seams showing in the CGI work here, but those are not a product of the transfer. The transfer itself is a lovely piece of work.
Audio Rating: 5/5
Fast & Furious 7 is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix in English (@ an average 4.3 mbps, going up to 6.3 mbps in the big scenes), as well as standard DTS 5.1 mixes in Spanish and French, and an English DVS track. As usual with these films, this is a fun, loud mix, with plenty of work for the subwoofer and the surrounds for the various gunplay sequences, fights and chases. This is another demo-quality mix for home theater enthusiasts.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
The Blu-Ray presentation of Fast & Furious 7 comes packed with materials, including four deleted scenes and about 100 minutes of featurettes.
The following materials are presented in high definition on the Blu-ray. If they are also available on the DVD, they would obviously be presented in standard definition there:
Deleted Scenes (5:59 Total, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – Four deleted scenes are presented here in high definition. Two are expansions of the group’s preparation for the big Abu Dhabi party, including a nice interaction between Toretto and new crew member Ramsey (Emmanuel). The other two are actually critical scenes for Letty’s quest to regain her memories. It’s pretty clear why these scenes were dropped, but the Letty scenes might have added some heft to the movie if they had been permitted to stay.
Talking Fast (31:47, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This is the latest vestage of the former “Take Control” functionality we used to have on these Blu-rays. It’s an in-depth look into various sequences of the movie, led by director James Wan, where we see the first moments of a sequence, and then see multiple pieces of behind-the-scenes footage while Wan explains the mechanics.
Back to the Starting Line (12:11, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON DVD & BLU-RAY) – This is a basic making-of featurette, covering various aspects of the production, with the usual soundbites from everyone involved.
Flying Cars (5:42, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This featurette covers the parachute sequence, showing on-set and on-location video of the car drops. 2nd Unit Director Spiro Razatos goes into some detail about how the actual parachute drops were done, and some horrifying footage is shown of what happens to a car that drops without a parachute…
Snatch and Grab (7:31, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON DVD & BLU-RAY) – This featurette covers the mountain driving sequence, including the craned landing of the cars onto the road and the multiple parts of the RV cliffhanger. A fair amount of detail about this sequence is shown here, considering the short length of the featurette.
Tower Jumps (6:53, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This featurette goes over the rocket car jumps between skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi. The discussion includes not only the visual effects work required to pull this off but also the production design of the differentiated building interiors seen as the car works its way from one building to another.
Inside the Fight: (1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This is an assembly of four short featurettes covering the various fights staged during the movie.
Hobbs/Shaw (3:15, 1080p) – The first featurette covers the opening Hobbs/Shaw battle in the federal building. There’s a fair amount of on-set footage included here, as well as interview soundbites from Johnson and Statham. Statham seems to be enjoying the fact that his character can somehow go toe to toe with The Rock...
Girl Fight (3:20, 1080p) – This featurette covers the fight between Ronda Rousey and Michelle Rodriguez. Rousey is extremely gracious in her comments here, noting that she just wanted to get a few of her expected signature moves in and give the Fast & Furious fans a good time. And of course, let Michelle Rodriguez win…
Dom v Shaw (2:52, 1080p) – This featurette covers the climactic duel between Toretto and Shaw, as shot against greenscreen in Atlanta.
Tej Takes Action (1:36 1080p) – This featurette gives a little attention to the single bit of fight action Ludacris ever sees in this (or any other) Fast & Furious movie. It shows Tej being unspeakably rude to a defenseless hotel security guard.
The Cars of Furious (10:42, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This featurette covers the various specialty cars seen in this movie, including the various cars used on the mountain road chase, the early showdown between Toretto and Shaw, and of course the use of Paul Walker’s own vehicle for a special moment.
Race Wars (6:34, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON DVD & BLU-RAY) – This featurette highlights the return of the franchise to the desert car culture get-together first seen in the original movie.
“See You Again” Official Music Video (4:05, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY)– Here is the music video for the movie’s closing sequence, as performed by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth.
Making of Fast & Furious Supercharged Ride (8:15, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH DVD & BLU-RAY) – This featurette shows some footage of the new Universal Theme Park ride based on the franchise, with some on-set video of Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and Tyrese Gibson.
DVD Copy – A second disc is included in the package, holding the standard DVD of the theatrical cut of the movie. It contains both versions of the movie presented in standard definition in an anamorphic 2.40:1 picture with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound in English, Spanish and French (448 kbps) as well as the English DVS track. Only a few of the special features are included – Back to the Starting Line, Snatch & Grab, Race Wars, and Making of Fast & Furious Supercharged Ride – all in standard definition.
Digital Copy – Instructions are included in the packaging for downloading a digital copy of the movie to your laptop or portable device.
Subtitles are available for the film and the special features, in English, Spanish and French. A full chapter menu is available for the film.
Overall Rating: 3/5
Fast & Furious 7 continues the franchise’s movement toward complete fantasy in its outlandish stunt sequences, but it’s undeniably entertaining. The movie benefits from an attractive cast, an interesting and varied array of locations, and from its own propulsive momentum. The Blu-ray release boasts solid high definition picture and sound, along with a generous collection of special features. Fans of the franchise are already snapping up this title in record numbers. More casual fans may want to rent it first and see how they feel.
Reviewed By: Kevin EK
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