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Empty Calories: ‘Furious 7’ is full of garish, high-octane fat, but lacks substance

With record-breaking box-office returns, critical praise and a groundswell of support for a well-liked actor making his last big-screen appearance,  “Furious 7” has become a massive blockbuster. It is getting love from ticket buyers and critics alike, but it’s still garbage.


EATING FROM THE WASTE BIN: “Furious 7” transitions the franchise from racing films to spy thrillers and features inconceivable plot points. Courtesy photo.

That’s right: “Furious 7” is trash. It’s marred by bad acting, cartoonish, unrealistic action, and plots that not only defy logic but give it the middle finger. It doesn’t matter how much you enjoy it or how popular it becomes: Just because you find it filling doesn’t mean you’re not eating from the waste bin.

There’s nothing wrong with cinematic garbage. There certainly are a few films I dearly love that are more suited to the film landfill than the AFI top 100. The problem we face is the legions of lowest common denominators that are trying to repackage garbage as credible art. They’re taking the half-eaten, fast-food hamburger, scraping off the mustard and pickles, placing it on a piece of fine china, and calling it “filet mignon.” 

The fast-food comparison feels apt as movies like “Furious 7” are the cinematic equivalent of junk food. It’s full of empty calories and engineered to maximize profits with the least amount of effort. While you might love cramming that dollar cheeseburger into your gaping maw, most would agree it’s not good for you. 



The latest in the ludicrously popular series brings Jason Statham into the mix as a one-dimensional villain. He is seeking revenge for what Dom (Vin Diesel) and his reckless driving crew did to his brother. It makes sense in a hackneyed way, as the entire series always has hammered home the importance of family. The very big, garrish plot involves a piece of technology called “The God’s Eye” and terrorist threats that can only be thwarted with souped-up, turbo-charged automobiles. I have a feeling this is what Henry Ford conceived when he invented the car: One day they would be dropped from planes, which then were called “whirlybirds,” to become the instrument for protecting freedom around the world.

I’m not sure when the “Fast and Furious” films made the transition from racing, action movies to spy thrillers. Seven films later, this series has become “Mission: Impossible,” covered in grease and choking on exhaust. 

I wrote about “critical relent” years ago when discussing “Fast Five.” Critical relent is that moment when critics realize their disdain for something is meaningless. Audiences will flock to theaters despite the warnings. Eventually, they relent—not wanting to appear out of touch with the current pop-culture happenings. Consequently, movies like “Fast and Furious” are crucified, whereas something like “Furious 7” is hailed as genius. Though, they are basically the exact same movie. The themes, the structure, the physics-defying car craziness completely mirror each other. 

I refuse to acknowledge this film is anything other than empty calories. It’s simply another franchise with no other option than to pile on inconceivable action sequences and hope audiences shut off their brains during the opening credits.


Furious 7

Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson
Directed by James Wan
Rated PG-13

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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