>>> Furious Seven

Oh, it's ridiculous. But that's the point!

FURIOUS SEVEN (James Wan). 137 minutes. Opens Friday (April 3). Rating: NNNN

Where to watch: iTunes 

Oh, what the hell. Furious Seven is ridiculous and insane even for the Fast & Furious franchise, but that’s kind of the point. It insists on topping the stunts and scale of the last six movies, escalating further and further until it’s almost touching the stratosphere. 

Replacing Justin Lin, who shaped the series from its third through sixth instalments, James Wan (yup, the guy who gave you Saw and The Conjuring) proves an enthusiastic and skilful director, embracing the outsized stunt work and one-note per­sonalities to create a fugue state of muchness. He delivers.

Vin Diesel’s hulking Dom Toretto is still singularly fixated on the concept of family – to the point where the word becomes the character’s equivalent of “I am Groot” – while Paul Walker’s Brian is his warrior brother, a golden retriever with awesome close-combat skills. 

Almost everyone is back, too, even Sung Kang’s Han (seen dying in that Tokyo crash for the third time), assembled to face a threat from vengeful special-forces monster Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), who’s bent on revenge for the team’s taking out his brother in London the last time we saw them. 

Naturally, beating the threat will require the support of a black-ops division of the U.S. government, the rescue of a super-hacker who’s designed a surveillance program straight out of The Dark Knight, the infiltration of a Jordanian prince’s penthouse party in Abu Dhabi and a climactic chase through Los Angeles involving a helicopter and a Predator drone. 

It all works because the picture never stops moving, and because at this point if you’re going to see the seventh Fast & Furious movie there is no way you could have a problem with any of this. And the franchise acknowledges the death of Walker during production with a grace note that’s strangely beautiful.

Incidentally, for those of you worrying about the series’ kinked chronology – which appeared to resolve itself at the end of Furious 6 by catching up to Han’s death in Tokyo Drift, suggesting all of the movies take place in a window of time between 2001 and 2006 – well, um, best to let it go. Furious Seven offers fresher dates, flashier technology, newer buildings and any number of contemporary reference points.  

But really, the Fast & Furious movies always take place in the immediate moment, right now, a quarter-mile at a time. Which is sort of nice in a way, because that means Brian will always be in there somewhere.

normw@nowtoronto.com | @normwilner

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