The Cars are the Stars in “Furious 7”

imageThe cars are the stars, and the wheels in the sky keep on turning in James Wan’s automotive aerial action ballet Furious 7 (B). Over the top in nearly every way, this popcorn flick assembles the gang of driving adventurers led by the minimally expressive Vin Diesel to thwart a British baddie (Jason Statham), conquer two ambitious tasks and then coast through a more traditional and endless car chase in the final reel. But, oh that first duo of tasks! From a sheer stunt spectacular perspective, the parachuting cars into enemy territory and a Dubai penthouse-set vehicular escape involving a drive through three skyscrapers are a gravity-be-damned wonder to behold. The 13 year old boy who is clearly conceiving the script gets it nearly all in place: the buxom beauties, the exotic locales, hilarious quips from a spry Tyrese Gibson, the street fights, equal opportunity wrestling matches (go, Michelle Rodriguez!) involving lots of smashed glass and even some Tokyo grift. The hood ornament on top of the proceedings is a sentimental postscript tribute to golden boy Paul Walker, the heart of the series who passed away before the movie shoot completed. This bittersweet tinge underscores themes of family and brotherhood in a film that is otherwise as subtle as a trucker’s mudflap. And while ludicrous and featuring Ludacris, the enterprise holds together in a whole “muscle cars in space” kinda way. For action fans who don’t need a whole lotta subtext under the hood, this sequel delivers the goods.