The death of Paul Walker in late 2013 was especially tragic, not because he was a great actor, but because he seemed like a genuinely great guy. He cared about his family, friends, fans and did a lot of work for charitable causes. Walker was in the middle of filming Furious 7 when he passed away and the future of the film was left up in the air. But after deciding that it was wrong to scrap the film, the filmmakers worked around Walker’s absence and after a year-long delay, the finished product has arrived in theaters. Taking over for franchise regular Justin Lin, director James Wan has created a hugely satisfying entry into the Fast & Furious saga. It’s completely over-the-top and its action sequences are utterly ridiculous, but the film still manages to serve as an extremely touching sendoff to Walker. This may not be the best Fast & Furious film, but it’s absolutely the most emotional.

Taking place after the events of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is living comfortably in Los Angeles with his girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). His sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and her husband Brian (Paul Walker) are attempting to adjust to domestic life, but Brian misses the thrill of their past adventures. But a new adventure arises when Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) kills their friend Han and vows to seek revenge against Dom and his family after they put Shaw’s brother in a coma. After reassembling their crew and being approached by a mysterious man named Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), Dom decides that the only way to beat Shaw is to find him first and to do that they must steal a valuable piece of technology that can find anyone on the planet.

Furious 7 still suffers from the terrible plot, inane dialogue and obvious objectification of women that has plagued its predecessors, but this is easily one of the most action-packed installments yet. A high speed chase on a curvy mountain road is a hugely satisfying action set piece, as is a sequence where the crew attempts to steal a car from the top floor of a huge tower. The physics and logic are at an all-time low, especially in a scene involving skydiving cars, but that hardly matters when the action is so much fun. Sadly, the final climactic moments are not as exciting as the events that precede it, which is somewhat understandable since the aforementioned sequences are so over-the-top.

What’s most surprising about the film isn’t the awesome action sequences (that’s to be expected) but how truly moving its final moments are. There was the worry that the film wouldn’t do Paul Walker justice, but the tribute to him and his character that ends the film is absolutely beautiful. Set to Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s “See you Again”, the tribute offers a conclusive end to Walker’s character and shows some of the highlights of Walker throughout the series. This series has never been great with characterizations, but the constant reaffirmation by Dom that these people are a family actually allows us to really care about them. Suffice to say, there won’t be a dry eye in the house by the time the film ends.

While another entry in the franchise would be welcome news, one can’t help feeling that this is the installment where the franchise should bow out. One of its main contributors has passed away and the franchise is almost guaranteed to never provide quite the ending that this one does. Plus, they may never be able to top how crazy these action sequences are, although I would still like to see them try. Furious 7 is a real crowd pleaser and James Wan makes sure that it has all the hallmarks of the series that fans have come to expect. It will put a tear in your eye and a big goofy smile on your face.

Furious 7 receives 3/4

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