Film Review: Furious 7 (dir by James Wan)


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Regardless of what you may think about the rest of Furious 7, the final ten minutes will make you cry.  They made me cry and, before I saw Furious 7, I wasn’t even really a fan of the franchise.  It’s not a spoiler to tell you that Furious 7 ends with a tribute to both the character Brian O’Connor and the actor who played him, Paul Walker.  While Dominic Toretto (played, of course, by Vin Diesel) says goodbye to Brian, we see a montage of clips of Brian throughout the previous Fast and Furious Films and it’s so poignant to see how Paul Walker transformed over the course of the series, going from being a somewhat bland teen heart throb to becoming a genuinely charismatic leading man.  Watching the montage, you can see that Paul Walker was still growing as an actor and you’re reminded of just what a shock it was when we first heard the news of his death in 2013.

And, of course, we’re very aware that, as Dominic is saying goodbye to Brian and we’re saying goodbye to the actor who played him, Vin Diesel is saying goodbye to his friend.  That Diesel and Walker were friends on-screen and off is no secret.  In fact, that friendship has always been one of the big appeals of the Fast and Furious franchise.  The films are about a group of people (mostly men) who care about each other and who aren’t ashamed to admit it.  When Dominic delivers the film’s final monologue, it’s really all about Vin saying goodbye to Paul.  By the time the words “For Paul” appeared on the screen, there was not a dry eye in the theater.

The death of Paul Walker adds an undeniable poignancy to Furious 7 and it’s sometimes hard to separate the real-life tragedy from what we’re watching on screen.  But here’s the thing — Furious 7 works as both a heartfelt tribute to Paul Walker and as a wonderfully over-the-top and fun action movie.  Furious 7 is a burst of pure adrenaline and style that epitomizes everything that you could possibly want out of an action movie.

Jason Statham plays Deckard Shaw, a former government assassin who has a personal vendetta against Dom, Brian, and practically everyone else who has ever been a Fast and Furious movie.  Statham isn’t in a lot of scenes but whenever he shows up, he kicks ass and watching Furious 7 was probably the first time that I’ve ever truly understood Statham’s appeal.  How impressive is Jason Statham in this film?  He puts Dwayne Johnson in the hospital, that’s how impressive he is.  And what’s amazing is that after watching their fight scene, you totally believe that Jason Statham could put Dwayne Johnson in the hospital.

Another government agent, Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell, having a great time), offers to help Dom take out Deckard but first, Dom and his crew have to do a favor for Mr. Nobody.  They have to rescue a hacker (Nathalie Emmanuel) from an African warlord (Djimon Honsou) who is obviously based on Joseph Kony.  That hacker knows about the location of a device that will allow the government to track down Deckard but the device has already been sold to a billionaire who lives in Abu Dhabi….

Ultimately, the exact specifics and logic of it all doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Chris Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, and Dwayne Johnson are all back and they’re all a lot of fun to watch.  What matters is that the cars look good and the stunt work is just as amazing as you were hoping.  What matters is that the film features things that you never thought you’d see — like cars parachuting down to a mountain road and jumping from skyscraper to skyscraper.

This is an exciting film.  It’s a fun film.  It’s an entertaining film.  It’s a stylish film.  And, ultimately, it’s a film that will make you cry.

What more can you ask for?

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2014 In Review: 14 of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Songs of 2014


Continuing our look back at 2014, below you’ll find 14 of my favorite songs of the past year.  Now, you should understand that I’m not necessarily saying that these are the best 14 songs of the year.  Instead, they’re just some of my personal favorites.  These are the songs that either made me want to dance or that I inevitably found myself singing off-key while I was in the shower.  These are the songs that got stuck in my head and which I found myself singing whenever I was stuck in traffic.

These are 14 of my favorite songs of 2014.

(By the way, click on the links in this sentence if you want to see my favorite songs of 2013, 2012, and 2011.)

14) Everything is Awesome — Tegan and Sara featuring The Lonely Island

13) Mess Is Mine — Vance Joy

12) Summer Nights — Kaskade featuring The Brocks

11) Chandelier — Sia

10) Take Ü There — Jack Ü (featuring Kiesza)

9) Blank Space — Taylor Swift

8) Runaway (U & I) — Galantis

7) Blue Sky Action — Above & Beyond featuring Alex Vargas

6) Fancy — Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX

5) Stolen Dance — Milky Chance

4) Get Low — Dillon Francis & DJ Snake

3) Don’t Leave — Seven Lions (featuring Ellie Goulding)

2) Shake It Off — Taylor Swift

1) Long Way Down — Robert DeLong

And finally, here’s my pick for the worst song and video of last year.  In the past, I’ve defended some of the notoriously awful songs that have been produced and promoted by Patrice Wilson, just on the basis that they were, at the very least, memorably weird.  Friday remains one of my favorite singing-in-the-shower songs and it’s fun to sing when you’re trying to annoy people on Monday.  Chinese Food is — well, Chinese Food sucked but I do love Chinese food so I could at least relate to the song.  But then, in 2014, came both the song Sush Up and the video featuring 11 year-old Alison Gold playing a sexualized criminal who gets electrocuted in the electric chair.  And, of course, Patrice shows up to rap.  And seriously — BLEH!

While I’m not going to share the video for Sush Up because it’s really creepy and icky, I will share another video that’ll make my point about Patrice Wilson.

Tomorrow, my look back at 2014 will continue with 20 good things that I saw on television in 2014!

Previous entries in TSL’s Look Back At 2014

  1. Things I Dug In 2014 Off The Top Of My Head
  2. 2014 in Review: The Best of Lifetime and SyFy
  3. 2014 in Review: Lisa’s Pick For the 16 Worst Films of 2014