This movie was everything I wanted and expected.

I thought they gave Paul Walker (and Brian) a very sweet sendoff. The movie is like 2.5 hours long, 2 hours of which are ridiculous stunts and explosions and .5 hours of which are the comedic stylings of Dwayne Johnson (I actually mean that quite genuinely—I think he's hilarious and seems like a super fun guy), and still I thought it had a lot of heart.

I've always loved how insanely diverse this series has been. I am disappointed in how the role of women has actually seemed to be shrinking, especially with the sporadic sexist jokes that pop up here and there, and of course always the gratuitous shots of hot scantily clad women at the races. I was heartbroken when Gal Gadot was killed off because I thought she was a needed addition to the cast, was super fun, was paired with the Korean guy (not common, especially as she is literally one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen in my life). I do like that Letty was brought back and has her own storyline and character. (I did have to roll my eyes that she was able to survive fighting Ronda Rousey. Girl, you would be submitting to an arm bar in 12 seconds. I was similarly annoyed that she was so adept at fighting Gina Carano in the last movie.) I also appreciate the different path they've given Mia—she's kind of boring and useless from the point of view of an action hero or racer, but she has a poignant if undeveloped storyline about just wanting to be a normal person with a normal wife who is terrified that domestic life will alienate her beloved husband.

I also loved that Ramsey, the bigshot secret hacker in this movie, is a woman of colour. I expected it as soon as Kurt Russell just put a blank box with a question mark on the screen, because that usually telegraphs "SUBVERTING EXPECTATIONS!" but I thought it was handled nicely (especially with Ludacris putting Tyrese in his place about what a programmer is "supposed" to look like).

The franchise does suffer from BIGGER AND BETTER syndrome, which afflicts any long-running series. We've come a long way from street racing and small-time heists in LA. Now the gang is being tapped by American covert ops to stop terrorists in Azerbaijan and steal back a drive in Abu Dhabi. Nuts. I do like that they've continued to focus on and heavily feature cars (and that they've faithfully depicted Vin Diesel as preferring American Muscle while Paul Walker goes for Japanese imports), but I think this movie was about the maximum of stretching in disbelief / rampant destruction I can take. (I mean Vin Diesel literally drives a car through three buildings. In the air. Also his head gets hit by a tire iron and he shakes it off like a mild irritation. Also the Rock bursts through a plaster arm and collarbone cast by flexing.) (That last bit may have been my favourite part of the movie.)

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Jason Statham was a fun villain. Not a lot to do but hunt the protagonists down, Terminator-style, but I much preferred the straight action and no bullshit to Furious 6's attempt at a "charismatic" villain. Sorry, Luke Evans, it just wasn't working for me. Djimon Hounsou was a hot badass as always, but not all that developed or competent, alas.

I do kind of worry that this will end up being the pinnacle of the series, especially now that Paul Walker is gone. I don't know that he was ever an amazing actor, and I don't think he alone carried the franchise, but I always really liked the relationship between him and Vin Diesel (which is why I think 2 Fast 2 Furious was my least favourite film—Tyrese is a lot of fun, but that relationship doesn't have the same depth). They've established a great relationship between Vin Diesel and the Rock, but I don't know that it will be the same. I don't know that I would want it to be.

All in all, a fantastic film. I knew what to expect (certainly not a ton of realism) and what I wanted out of the film (the rumble of American muscle, crazy stunts, good rapport between the main characters, humour bordering on cheesy) and that's what I got. Plus, the scene where they skydive cars straight out of the airplane and land them with parachutes onto a mountain road in Azerbaijan? Real stunt. (Except for the Azerbaijan part. They were in Colorado.) Fucking badass.