Seven times Faster

Inside of his car, falling down the side of a mountain, glass and rocks splintering from the impact, Vin Diesel survives. Not only does he survive, he shows no cuts and no abrasions. Neither does his passenger. Dwayne Johnson tumbles out of a seven story glass window and lands on the roof of a car. Not a scratch, despite broken bones. Maybe the Fast & Furious films have an aversion to blood. Maybe producers don’t want their good looking cast to appear injured. Maybe these films are so increasingly ridiculous, it doesn’t matter.

The conceptual insanity which brings these later Fast & Furious features into existence must appear absurd when presented. Discussions of dropping cars from planes, leaping them between Abu Dahbi skyscrapers, drone battles in Los Angeles, collapsing parking garages; how ludicrous these must all seem when composed. Then they happen. To Furious 7’s credit, cars don’t explode when they land, because realism. Hyper realism, actually, mere inches from drifting into a form of magical realism.

It’s certainly difficult to view at times. The loss of Paul Walker is forever in the film’s veins. A certain prophetic discomfort is evident. “No more funerals,” spouts Diesel. Either that is terrifying coincidence or utterly random happenstance in the script.

What a send off though, featuring the late actor in glorious, utterly absurdest pop entertainment at the height of its capability. $200 million worth of smashes, crashes, and bashes sprawl across the frame, each in a scenario ballooning in pure, unfiltered glee. Fast & Furious transformed from a series about cars to a series about destroying them en masse. So be it. They make summer fun.

Certain bad habits remain. Dialogue is brutal in the opening chapters. Further, the family spiel within the Fast crew grows ever weaker as these films expand their girth. Certainly, the artificiality of the bond carries a tinge of marketing weight now – make the fans feel like family too, and sell more tickets. Objectification is rampant, even used as a canonical junction point. That’s odd. Ronda Rousey and Michelle Rodriguez at least tussle to give Furious 7 a splash of feminine badassery.

The earlier films feel so quaint in their narratives concerning drifting and muscle engine showboating.

And sure, Furious 7 rejects the essence of plausibility. The earlier films feel so quaint in their narratives concerning drifting and muscle engine showboating. Furious 7 is bloated too – 137 minutes is utterly unnecessary. Peter Jackson would be proud. The finale’s drone striking, street turning, tower falling escapades are a drain on any attention span, more so with the preceding 90+ minutes of gun firing, martial arts, and tow cable misuse. Furious 7 is the point where writers draw on the villain’s previously unknown family for story oomph – the brother of Owen Shaw from Fast 6, who happens to be Jason Statham in this situation.

The series skews young (few will pick up on the brother cliche), it skews privileged (the steal from the rich angle which birthed anti-heroes is long busted), but on the underside is a series whose only goal is idiotic entertainment. Michael Bay’s explosions too often exist to sell toys. Expendables ignored the longevity of nostalgia. Audiences are left with Fast or Furious and that’s all right.

Video (UHD)

Universal drizzles Furious 7 with HDR effects, enhancing an already hearty contrast. Image depth bests the Blu-ray in a substantial way, adding weight and intensity to the images. Scenes of nighttime skylines erupt with massive splashes of neon, sizzling with brightness.

Awesome black levels deepen the sights. Partway through, Nathalie Emmanuel sports a black dress. Despite the deepened shadows, detail remains visible on that dress. The same with her hair. It’s an easy showcase for dimensionality. This covers the rest of Furious 7 too. Shadows detail isn’t ignored, giving a pass to the poorly mastered footage of the earlier films (including Tokyo Drift and Paul Walker’s early appearances).

Although upscaled from a 2K master, the jump in resolution means firm, well rendered detail. A few shots remain off as they did on Blu-ray (a stand-off between Diesel and Russell early on). Inconsistencies stick around, clearly part of the source and not the UHD. It’s no less substantial though, popping with facial definition and environmental details. The disc shines in each area, even with some softer or noisier instances battling against perfection.

Video (Blu-ray)

A small army of digital cameras were employed for Furious 7. Name a market player and it’s here. Resulting images are of some inconsistency, beginning murky inside of a London hospital. Close-ups of Statham drag before Furious 7 transitions to Diesel and Rodriguez. There, images are remarkable in their clarity and resolution. Facial definition is exquisite before following the pattern. Such fidelity appears and then evaporates.

One slight instance of banding is of no concern. Universal’s encode is more than capable. Bitrates are spectacular for those keeping track of numbers. Action scenes, filling with debris, sparks, and fast cuts, are handled impeccably.

Most of Furious 7 is covered in blues. Light blues, deep blues… middle blues (?). A return to Race Wars and scenes in Dubai are relief. Those become blanketed in orange. Flesh tones merely follow in stride. Black levels prove intense when needed, keeping the mood dour during a nighttime cemetery visit while maintaining depth. The finale is likewise assisted through the early morning chase. Contrast is likewise hefty, if bitten a touch by the overwhelming blue.

Some flashbacks to prior films reveal dated Universal masters, either swelling with bleeding color or sharpening artifacts. They’re generally quick until the pre-credit tribute to Paul Walker.

Audio

Astounding from scene-to-scene, Furious 7 joins the prior films in celebrating how bombastic action movies can be. Discussions can be had about gimmickry within the music (lyrics separating between channels) or how grand ambiance can be (inside garages/at a party/plane interiors), but the action sequences are all of reference level beauty.

There is tremendous tracking discipline here. Fast & Furious has always been meticulous about panning cars. Engines pass with grace. As the expansion happened into an action-driven franchise, gunfire, explosions, and now missiles are added into the fray. Here a drone swoops in from multiple angles, slinging firepower which pans into the soundstage or from inside vehicles where needed. Impact is powerful. Furious 7 is an overload of LFE. There are a multitude of reasons to use it – from revving motors to crashes to Dwayne Johnson picking up a heavy machine gun. Impressive too is balance which keeps the score pronounced even as the scenes escalate in intensity.

For a test of accuracy, Diesel and Statham meet, swinging metal bars at one another in a bit of non-gentlemanly combat. The rushing air and clanging sounds are superlative in their precision. This disc does it all.

Extras

An included extended cut adds a pithy two minutes. You’ll miss little if you choose the theatrical version. Four deleted scenes fall one second shy of six minutes. Talking Fast recalls the days of pop-up features, with James Wan digging into scenes to discuss the approach he chose – and in this case without having to watch the entire movie. He has time to chat at 32-minutes. Back to the Starting Line can be let go – it’s a promo.

From here, bonuses become individualized, dissecting a specific action set piece. Parachuting cars, mountain chase, the tower leaps, Race Wars, and each of the four main hand-to-hand brawls are covered for 40 minutes or so of total bonus material. A final film-based bonus details the car builds and their uniqueness. The music video and promo video for the Universal Studios Fast & Furious ride (where the word “experience” is rendered useless by repetition) leave behind a fine set of detailed extras.

  • Furious 7
  • Video (UHD)
  • Video (Blu-ray)
  • Audio
  • Extras

Summary

Furious 7 elevates the franchise into new levels of absurdity – but with a wink – creating a persistent and goofy bit of entertaining pop cinema.

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.