The "Fast and the Furious" franchise got dangerously close to the point-of-no-return in the sixth installment, when the characters, speeding down a runway in cars, collectively took down a gigantic cargo plane. How do you top that, after all?
These movies keep getting bigger and bigger, with stunts upon stunts that don't just defy credibility; they violate the very laws of physics. Eventually, there's a limit.
Yet in "Furious 7," new director James Wan finds a way forward. Truly, it can be said that this is the biggest one yet.
Cars parachute out of planes, landing on remote Caucasus Mountain highways. They fly out of Middle Eastern skyscrapers. At one point, a character sprints and leaps his way out of a bus as it dangles off a cliff. The absurdity knows no bounds.
The actors don't really act. They glide through scenes and mildly riff on their familiar personas.
And the picture flat out works. It's becoming increasingly hard to outright dismiss this franchise, even if every nuanced critical bone in my body would love to do so. There aren't many other examples of successful seventh entries and there's an art to managing such a supersized enterprise in a way that keeps it from being grating.
This time, Dom (Vin Diesel) and crew are enlisted by a game Kurt Russell to chase a MacGuffin (seriously it doesn't even remotely matter), so that Russell's black ops agent will help them strike back at the British operative (Jason Statham) hellbent on killing them.
The plot has never held less significance. It's all about the stunts and, ultimately, a quite touching and, yes, subtle tribute to the late Paul Walker.