'Furious 7': What the Critics Are Saying

Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Jason Statham and Kurt Russell star in the seventh installment alongside Paul Walker in his last role.

Furious 7, the seventh installment of the car-racing franchise, stars Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Lucas Black, Jason Statham and Kurt Russell as well as Paul Walker in his last role.

Directed by James Wan, the Universal release is expected to gross $115 million or more when opening at the North American box office this weekend, the top showing ever for an April title, not accounting for inflation. Domestically, it is getting the widest release in Universal's history with a theater count of roughly 4,003 (including Imax locations).

See what top critics are saying about Furious 7:

The Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore writes, "Any moviegoer who didn't know about the untimely death of Paul Walker would never guess it had occurred during production of Furious 7, a film that (whatever massive efforts were required to work around his absence) is as stupendously stupid and stupidly diverting as it could have hoped to be had everything gone as planned. … [It] is as overinflated, if not as well formed, as the physique of Johnson, who gave this ensemble a much-needed charisma boost when he signed on in episode five." Though full of "Chris Morgan's unrepentantly dumb pulp dialogue," franchise fans "don't come out to critique lines like 'Let's do this,' they come to see a red sports car (one so expensive only seven were made) be stolen from a billionaire's Abu Dhabi penthouse; to watch it bust through his windows, fly through the air, and crash into the skyscraper next door (landing safely, of course) only to learn that the brakes have gone out, and it will have to take to the skies again into a third building. Anyone who can buy that bit of computer-generated idiocy should have no trouble believing Paul Walker is in this film from start to finish."

He continues, "The knowledge of his death in a November 2013 car accident colors our experience of this unintentional swan song in many ways, of course, but viewers trying to spot the scenes in which stand-ins and CGI played Walker's part for him will find it hard enough that they may do the right thing: Stop trying, and instead go along with a reworked screenplay that ushers him off the stage with as much grace as any other development in this muscle-car melodrama."

The New York Times' A.O. Scott says, "Occasional ogling aside, Furious 7 extends its predecessors' inclusive, stereotype-resistant ethic. Compared to almost any other large-scale, big-studio enterprise, the Furious brand practices a slick, no-big-deal multiculturalism, and nods to both feminism and domestic traditionalism. ... There is much too much plot in any case, and a little too much heavy weaponry for my taste. Like Dom, I prefer fisticuffs and car chases to apocalyptic computer-generated explosions, but I must admit that some of the digital stunts hit the sweet spot of wacky, oh-no-they-didn't sublimity." However, viewers "will experience a melancholy, earthward tug whenever Walker, who died in 2013, appears on screen. ... The final moments, when Walker's longtime colleagues say their farewells while he still appears to be on screen with them, are both awkward and moving."

Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharkey calls it the "fuel-injected fusion of all that is and ever has been good in The Fast and the Furious saga. ... The always-fabulous autos spend much of the time airborne in stunning, heart-dropping effects. But it is in the handling of heartfelt sentiment that Furious truly soars, as the on-screen and off-screen family gives one of their own — Walker — a near-perfect final ride." In this film, "much of the credit for the mostly smooth ride must go to the director, Wan," as "the emotional connections between the actors can really be felt far more in Furious 7." Plus, "throughout stunt veteran Joel Kramer and fight choreographer Jeff Imada go fierce. And a shout out to the entire production team, including directors of photography Stephen F. Windon and Marc Spicer, visual effects supervisors Michael J. Wassel and Kelvin McIlwain and production designer Bill Brzeski."

The Guardian's Catherine Shoard says, "Morbid as it is, much of the inevitable pull of the movie is in trying to decipher what its original story might have been, how the film-makers have bent it to fit logistics and in figuring out which bits of footage actually feature Walker and which are the stand-ins with his face digitally superimposed. As you'd expect for the reported $50m bill for such work, it looks pretty flawless, but there are still a handful of scenes in which his character is shot from curious angles, or holds a toddler in front of his head, or fights foes in unusually ill-lit rooms. More impressive is the film's elegiac tone. Threads are tied with something approaching seamlessness. Not many movies could get away with a memories montage, but there's something about the franchise's earnest investment in its characters that's quite unique. Its longevity is because it functions as much as a soap as an action flick. ... Diesel and team should still be congratulated for a ride that still manages to be joyful in the worst of circumstances."

New York Daily News' Jacob Hall notes it as "the biggest, silliest movie in the franchise, officially transforming the series into The Avengers with muscle cars. But what's wrong with big and silly?" It "is a fan event through and through, filled with references, inside jokes and a loyalty to continuity that may baffle newcomers. It's actually less a movie than a collection of scenes that feel constructed to make Furious fans cheer. ... With Walker's death, Furious 7 definitively ends a chapter in the Fast and Furious saga, while opening the door to further adventures. But it sets the bar for craziness awfully high."

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