After seeing the film, I will say this, Furious 7 is definitely Paul Walker’s swansong but if you want to watch a really good car chase, just go watch the recently released Bollywood film NH10
The camera swivels 360 degrees to get you onto tarmac and into Vin Diesel’s car. Fast and Furious 7/ Furious 7 begins with this camera wizardry but before you get carried away with the fascinating move, (hold on to your horse power, while Vin Diesel gets busy unleashing his) know this—it is the same camera move that Ram Gopal Verma used, over a decade ago, in the first scene of his 2002 flick, Road. To be fair, there is very little in the film that we haven’t seen in Bollywood blockbusters before. And if you don’t believe me, think Abbas Mastan’s Race or Aditya Chopra’s Dhoom where some equally thrilling over-the-top stunts were shot over the years, and no, they didn’t use 340 cars or destroy 230 cars during the making of their films, combined!
Soon enough, in Furious 7, we are invited to a rave party in Cancoon, no wait, it is a drag race, where Vin Diesel gives driving instructions to his girlfriend, Michelle Rodriguez, “Keep it under 9,000 rpm,” he says to Michelle, who protests feebly saying that it is not her (driving) style. Still, she listens to him and goes on to win the quarter mile race. (Moral of the story: men still continue to rule, knowing cars better than women!) Meanwhile, Paul Walker has been completely domesticated and is seen ferrying a kid in an MPV (Multi- Purpose Vehicle), which he still has not gotten a hang of, thanks to having only driven turbocharged supercars all along. In a scene, which looks right out of a Bollywood film, Walker’s house is razed to the ground after a bomb explosion and that is what sets the story in motion.
Coming back to stunts, either Bollywood stunts are getting better or Hollywood is slipping because clearly, you don’t come out of the movie hall thinking you have seen something new, barring one parachute stunt, when Vin Diesel and his buddies jump off a Lockheed C-130 Hercules plane with military strength parachutes attached to their respective cars to land on Caucasus Road, in Azerbaijan (which is actually Arizona desert) post which supercars, ATVs and buses are seen flying off cliffs. (Hope Zoya Akhtar is watching closely.) However, Paul Walker’s bus stunt, though well thought of, looks quite unreal. And frankly, when it comes to stunts involving buses, nobody does it better than Keanu Reeves! Then there is the office fight, between Dwayne Johnson and the villain, Jason Statham, which takes place in a semi-transparent office, against the L.A. skyline, where a lot of glass is shattered but then again—shattered glass? Really? Come on, haven’t we, in India, grown up on a diet of shattered glass since Shetty’s days? And no, I don’t mean Rohit Shetty.
The film is not without its light moments when they joke about how it took USA a decade to find Osama Bin Laden or when Kurt Russell and Vin Diesel clink glass and compare Belgian beer to Corona! There is also, auto jingoism, in terms of Vin Diesel driving the American built Dodge Charger, whereas Statham drives the British marque, Aston Martin’s, DB9 and the Ghibli.
After L.A. and Tokyo, the action shifts to Abu Dhabi. Yawn! Sorry, but wasn’t Sex and the City already shot there not too long ago? Surely, the Fast and Furious 7 team could have scouted for better locations where they would not have to show their cavalcade of cars driving past camels! Double yawn! There, while Indian actor, Ali Fazal, tries hard to pass off as an Arab but fails miserably, at a pent house party, the ladies battle it out, in their evening gowns, while the men busy themselves stealing Beirut-based company, W Motors,’ supercar, Lykan Hypersport, (fibreglass models of) which were reportedly flown off towers, in what again looks rather unreal.
If you have gone to watch the film for cars and driving, you will be a little disappointed because though they have tried to make it outlandish using some great cars, (such as the Dodge Charger, Plymouth ‘Cuda’, Nissan GTR and Jeep Wrangler) not to mention, tanks, buses, ATVs, planes and helicopters in the film, the focus seems to be more on fighting than actually driving, a lot of which happens during the night. However, some dialogues and scenes do stand out—when Dwayne Johnson says, “I am the cavalry,” for instance, and the last scene, where Vin Diesel and Paul Walker drive together and then branch out onto different roads. It is gorgeously shot and is a beautiful tribute to Walker who died midway through filming.
After seeing the film, I will say this, Furious 7 is definitely Paul Walker’s swansong but if you want to watch a really good car chase, just go watch the recently released NH10, at a theatre near you, and look out for the night scene, where Anushka Sharma drives a Maruti Gypsy to dodge the goons chasing her in their Mahindra Scorpio, and I assure you, you will come away suitably impressed. And for all those who belong to another generation, any Feroze Khan film should do it for you; after all, who better than him to give us a taste of true driving panache?