After finally making the franchise actually "good" with the fifth movie, the Fast and Furious franchise had held onto that streak with its next movie... by the very skin of its teeth. The unfortunate thing is, they seem to keep wanting to outdo themselves in ridiculousness. Which, by the end of the sixth one, had me worried about what was next. And yes... somehow, Furious 7 manages to be even more stupid and ridiculous than the last one, at a higher rate. The difference? There's not enough good stuff to balance it fully out.
This seventh film concerns what happens when Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham)--the brother of Owen Shaw, the last movie's villain--comes looking for revenge against Dom Toretto and his team for crippling his brother. That actually sounds like a pretty awesome premise--Vin Diesel, The Rock and company versus Jason Statham--but oddly enough, it gets put aside way too much for another subplot involving this surveillance hacking program that this mercenary named Jakande (Djimon Hounsou) wants, and can supposedly help the team get Deckard... which feels a little pointless at times, particularly when Deckard literally follows the team everywhere they go, even when it makes no sense whatsoever. Even that subplot getting unexpectedly thrown in wouldn't be quite as bad if there weren't so many other nonsensical things in the story that I can't mention due to spoilers.
So yes, the story department takes a hit in Furious 7, after at least sort of trying the last few movies. Of course, part of the pull of the Fast & Furious franchise is all the ridiculous stunts--some of which work better than others. The car skydiving sequence and the chase that follows is awesome. The "car flying one from skyscraper to another" thing is unrealistic... but still kind of cool.
But then you have the climactic act, in which there are so many utterly insane instances of defying death that it would be take me forever to list them all... but I'll stick with this one, which is arguably the most egregious in the entire series, in which a character drives a car at full speed off a ramp of debris in a parking garage (near the top of said garage, mind you), scrapes an enemy helicopter with said car, and then of course falls all the way down to what should be a fiery demise... and the character somehow lives.
And as if stuff like *that* wasn't enough, let's address James Wan, who took over at director for Justin Lin for this film. He should probably stick to horror movies. His directorial style is much more irritating, with lots of weird camera movements. And somehow, the script is a lot weaker than in the last two movies, despite no change in writer. And let's not forget how Dwayne Johnson, one of the best things about this franchise, is sidelined for almost the entire thing due to injuries (in real life, it was scheduling conflicts).
With all of these negatives about the film, one probably had to be worried about how they'd handle the death of Paul Walker; yet they manage to come up with a surprisingly well-done and emotional farewell for him. It's only even more powerful when you think about the fact that Dom's final lines to Brian aren't Dom speaking to Brian; they're Vin Diesel speaking to Paul Walker (the two were actually like brothers in real life). With that in mind, that makes it much more meaningful, regardless of your opinion on Paul Walker and his acting.
Beyond that nice moment, the few positives include the car skydiving sequence mentioned earlier, The Rock vs. Jason Statham, and the overall chemistry between the various actors (even if the script is weaker this time around). It is still a fairly exciting movie overall, even if there are some things that just make you scratch your head. You won't be bored, regardless.
Unfortunately, despite a few good things, Furious 7 still represents the franchise going back to being not so good. The last two movies were entertaining, and this one still kind of is to a degree, but it's also much harder to swallow. If they only intend to make it crazier from here, that might be a problem. But even then I might be able to put up with a lot if the story were just more comprehensible and not filled with contradictions and holes. Unfortunately, the days of the Fast and Furious franchise being "good" may have been short-lived.