A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Furious 7 is the seventh movie in the massively successful and increasingly popular Fast & Furious franchise. Like the others, it has tons of over-the-top, outrageous action violence (with the biggest stunts ever for the franchise), including fighting with fists and weapons, car chases/crashes, explosions, gunfire, and character deaths. Women are viewed as objects, frequently appearing in bikinis (women with normal/realistic body types don't appear) -- but the central female characters are also strong and smart. Language isn't constant but does include uses of "s--t," "bitch" and one "f--k." Star Paul Walker died during production; his scenes were completed with digital magic and stand-ins. The movie has more focus than earlier installments on the meaning of family, but characters still don't face any consequences for their violent, destructive actions.
What's the story?
In FURIOUS 7, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) visits his brother, Owen -- the defeated villain from Fast & Furious 6 -- in the hospital, vowing revenge against the intrepid team of main characters. Shaw attacks, succeeding in killing one team member. The rest -- Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), and Tej (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) -- rally together, while Hobbes (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) lies in the hospital with two broken limbs. Meanwhile, a mysterious secret agent (Kurt Russell) offers the team help in getting Shaw, but only if they'll rescue an important kidnapped hacker, Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel). On top of everything else, this puts yet another bad guy (Djimon Hounsou) on their trail.
Is it any good?
Talented horror director James Wan takes over the Fast & Furious franchise helm and brings a definite freshness to it in the seventh installment. The action scenes have more gleeful energy and absurd humor, and there are more showstoppers than ever before. Additionally, the characters are less about machismo and more about "family" bonding. This element is likely due to Walker's untimely death; his presence lends the movie an elegiac tone. (With the aid of digital magic, Walker's brothers stood in for the actor's uncompleted scenes.)
All that said, Furious 7 keeps up the series' unfortunate take on women as objects; no female appears who doesn't look good in a bikini. It's also the longest movie in the series so far, and it can't keep up the pace for two-plus hours. The energy eventually flags, and the explosions grow tiresome -- which is too bad, since the blocky, chunky writing could easily have been trimmed. But there's a spectacular 90-minute action movie hidden somewhere within...
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Furious 7's over-the-top violence. How did it affect you? Does it seem at all realistic? How does that change its impact?
Are any of these characters role models? How can they be heroes if they're destroying millions of dollars' worth of property? Can you think of other movies where "bad guys" are the heroes?
Why do you think the Fast & Furious franchise is so popular? What's appealing about it? What are its drawbacks?
How does it feel to watch Walker in the movie knowing that, in real life, he passed away? What do you think he'll best be remembered for?
- In theaters: April 3, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: September 15, 2015
- Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez
- Director: James Wan
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Cars and trucks
- Run time: 137 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: prolonged frenetic sequences of violence, action and mayhem, suggestive content and brief strong language
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