The first trailer for the seventh film in the Fast & Furious franchise, Furious 7, was released over the weekend. Set to open next April, the film will apparently pick up where the previous installment left off — not a given by any means with this series, which brought Han back to life for films 4-6 after sending him to the great race for pink slips in the clouds at the end of Tokyo Drift. This time, Furious 7 sends our beloved gang of street-racing-criminals-cum-international-do-gooders on the hunt for Han’s killer, the brother of Fast 6‘s British antagonist, Owen Shaw. The trailer gives us a little insight into how all of this will shake down, but mostly, appropriately, to a degree that made me so giddy that I watched it somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 times in 48 hours, it is almost three full minutes of non-stop action.
And this is all you are getting in the form of an introduction because SKYDIVING CARS.
Yup, the trailer opens with an extended action sequence from the film that itself opens with everyone reversing out of a cargo plane inside cars that have been hooked up to parachutes. This raises a number of interesting questions, like “Why?” and “How?” and “Whaaaaa?” and “But how do they even control the parachutes to make sure the cars land where they’re supposed to?” It also serves as a nice reminder that asking questions like this is a fool’s errand. This is a franchise that ended its most recent film with a 13-minute scene in which neon Hondas chased down an airplane on a runway that would have had to be something like 25 miles long for the whole thing to be anything resembling plausible, and which culminated in Vin Diesel driving a car through the nose of the exploding plane as it crashed back to Earth. Cars can skydive now. It’s best if you just accept that. Check that: it’s best if you embrace it. It will open you up to a world of wonder.
Anyway, the skydiving cars all land safely on a two-lane, tree-lined road in the mountains, and our heroes begin chasing after a large black bus. But it’s not just any bus. Oh, no. No it is not.
MACHINE GUN BUS! OF COURSE!
This development brings up two important points:
- Machine Gun Bus is now officially my second favorite Fast & Furious mode of transportation, ranking only behind the military vehicle from Fast 6 that was secretly carrying a large, fully operational tank that proceeded to careen into oncoming traffic and smush about dozen cars, all of which were presumably driven by human beings who died horrible, splattery deaths that the film casually brushed aside so as not to interfere with its remaining hour or so of The Rock blowing sh*t up. “Uh, guys. They got a tank.” You said it, Ludacris.
- It’s fun to picture this bus as, like, the tour bus for Mumford & Sons.
The teaser scene that takes up the first half of the trailer ends with this: Paul Walker running across the top of the Machine Gun Bus that is falling into a canyon, and leaping to grab on to a metal bar affixed to the back of a muscle car that Michelle Rodriguez is drifting over the edge of the cliff at 100 mph in an attempt to save him.
The 90 seconds of footage we have seen so far represents the fourth, or possibly the fifth, greatest movie I have ever seen.
At this point the trailer transitions into more familiar trailer-y territory: shots of people carrying very large guns, shots of people stomping on accelerators, shots of various skylines, mild exposition by way of someone reading a classified government file out loud, etc. It also features the image I have screencapped above. I would like to talk about this image.
At the beginning of the franchise, way back in 2001, Dominic Toretto was a mysterious Southern California street racer who ran a lunch counter by day and robbed 18-wheelers at night. He wore tank tops and shirts with his name on them, almost exclusively, as did the members of his crew. His was a simple but dangerous life, which appeared to be the way he liked it.
Cut to: A decade or so later in our time, and probably somewhat less than that in the Fast universe (again, chronological hijinks), when he appears to be attending lavish golden parties in foreign lands and confidently striding places in formal attire while flanked by Tyrese and his on-again, off-again tomboy-esque love interest who overcame amnesia after being left for dead and is now wearing cherry red lipstick and a matching ball gown.
How far we’ve come.
This next part happens very quickly, so it’s a little difficult to tell exactly what is going on. Let me tell you what I think is happening: I think The Rock is in the hospital. I think he has sustained injuries that are severe enough to require a cast on his left arm. I think, for whatever reason, unless I’m just imagining it because I want it to be true so very, very, badly, The Rock says “Daddy’s gotta go to work” and flexes his arm so hard that it bursts out of the cast.
And then he uses the very same injured arm to block a punch so he can deliver a haymaker that sends a grown man flying through a glass wall in the hospital that was treating him for his injuries. Put this movie in the Smithsonian.
The trailer also gives us a brief introduction to the bad guy in Furious 7, Ian Shaw, portrayed by Jason Statham, who has somehow — through a process that I imagine involved a number of levers and pulleys and secret trap doors — managed to not appear in a Fast & Furious movie until now. I mean, yes, he did pop up after the credits of Fast 6 to reveal himself as Han’s killer. And I guess that means he was kind of, technically, in Tokyo Drift, back before he or I or God in heaven had any idea this franchise would go on for four more sequels and snowball into one of the summer tentpoles that Universal Studios basically relies on to remain financial solvent. I repeat: How far we’ve come.
Oh, and this is also the part of the trailer where Kurt Russell says that someone or something “doesn’t play by your rules.” Every movie should have a scene where Kurt Russell says that someone or something “doesn’t play by your rules.” We should go back and add it to other movies that have already been made. I think it would really add something to, say, The English Patient.
So this brings us to the end of the trailer, and also to the elephant in the room: Paul Walker’s death. Fast 7 was postponed almost a full year after Walker died in a high-speed car accident, and the film underwent significant rewrites and reworking, including bringing in Walker’s real-life brothers to serve as stand-ins for some scenes. I have no idea how they plan to handle all of that, especially in a series of films not exactly known for their subtlety and nuance (see above, re: cast, flexed off). It’s going to be strange. And, to be perfectly honest, I’m not quite sure how I’m going to feel sitting in the theater watching Paul Walker race around in an expensive sports car given the circumstances of his death. These movies have always been big dumb fun, and I wonder if inserting something this heavy into them will make that impossible. It’ll definitely be weird.
Let’s put it this way: The trailer ends with Vin Diesel saying “I don’t have friends … I got family” over the above shot of Paul Walker, and I immediately — two minutes after watching cars skydiving to chase after a bus that is secretly loaded with machine guns — found myself getting a little emotional. This is uncharted territory for all of us. I think that’s my point.