'Furious 7' is painfully dumb and thrillingly entertaining
‘Furious 7’ is painfully dumb and thrillingly entertaining

Once a movie franchise has reached its seventh installment, there’s not a whole lot left to say — especially when we are talking about a franchise as ridiculous as “The Fast and the Furious.”

I’ve seen all of these movies (I think? I honestly couldn’t tell you what absurd plotline, action sequence, and collection of characters belong with what film. It’s all a blur of burnouts and t-shirts that are three sizes too small.) and at this point, we are just splitting hairs.

We’ve gotten to “Furious 7,” which is most likely to be remembered as the one where series regular Paul Walker died during production. Walker gets an admirable sendoff here with his brother doubling as a stand-in for his handful of unfinished scenes.

At its best, you can expect a “Furious” movie to be painfully dumb and thrillingly entertaining. “Furious 7” clears this bar as Vin Diesel gloweringly assembles his crew of street-racing, vigilante, special-forces ninjas, or whatever they are supposed to be at this point. Didn’t these movies start with Diesel as a low-level hood and Walker as an undercover FBI agent? But I digress.

You don’t need to worry about the plot because nobody else associated with the movie did either. Just know everyone who has shown up in a “Furious” movie gets some screen time including Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris (Luda!), and Lucas Black.

There are also a couple of salty additions to the series with Kurt Russell showing up as a government operative and having more fun than he has any right to. We also have Jason Statham as bad guy Deckard Shaw, who is apparently so elusive we spend almost the entire movie looking for a device to track him down, even though he crashes through the window or drops from the ceiling every other scene. It would be like if Osama bin Laden kept swinging into cubicles at Langley. But I digress again.

Taking his first crack at the “Furious” franchise is director James Wan, a man responsible for another seemingly unending film series as the creator of “Saw.” Wan knows all the beats to hit by keeping the camera constantly in motion, delivering pulse-pounding, physics-defying action sequences, and acting like he was the guy who invented the up-skirt booty-cam.

This whole series is little more than adolescent boy wish fulfillment; and as a former adolescent boy that is cool with me. These movies know what they are and they are pretty much forgivable, except for maybe Diesel’s tough-guy routine, which is about as tired as it gets. Charles Bronson thinks Diesel should lighten up.

At any rate, this movie will make a ton of money and you can set your watch by the arrival of “Furious 8” at a theater near you in 2017 as it doesn’t look like there is much that will slow this behemoth down. I’m still not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

“Furious 7” is rated PG-13 for prolonged frenetic sequences of violence, action, and mayhem, suggestive content, and brief strong language.

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