We’ve come a long way from where we began
Steeped in tragedy, Fast & Furious 7 pulls no punches, going for broke in its gravity-defying stunts, even if the globe-trotting big budget antics thinly-veil the desperately reworked script.Still, what other franchise has been so celebrated for being at its peak in its latter chapters, securing the hearts and minds of a devoted following with its fifth instalment? Whether you have followed the evolution right from its sub-Point Break-esque origins, or just entered as things went into heist-themed Ocean’s 11 territory for Fast Five, so long as you’ve embraced the delirious excess of the latest films, you’re likely to only find more deliciously exciting implausibility and gravity-defying insanity with this entry. From its bone-breaking Statham vs. The Rock bout to its Walker vs. Jaa, Rousey vs. Rodriguez and Diesel vs. Statham fights, this was already pushing the 12A boundaries so don’t expect more from the Extended Cut (although the lopsided girl-on-girl fight has a few more blows, and Kurt Russell shoots a few more people) other than the unnecessary de-slo-mo-ing of the opening sequence.Beyond those minor additions, it’s much the same, but that’s no big deal, both cuts are readily available, and both equally enjoyable. If you didn’t like the original Theatrical Cut you’re not going to be swayed any more by the Extended Cut, but to be honest, if you didn’t like it – or the franchise – in the first place, you probably wouldn’t even be here. And for those who’ve made it this far, there is a truly touching and tear-welling farewell to the late Paul Walker. Indeed Fast & Furious 7 boasts plenty of genuinely memorable moments to add to one of the strongest ensemble franchises of all time. Although the initially well-established revenge story does get diluted by the numerous subplots and, of course, by all the last-minute fixes needed to plug the gaping hole that the loss of the co-lead created in the half-complete production, the end result is still a fitting, furious, and fond farewell to this key member of the franchise’s family.
Arrives on Region Free UK Blu-ray with a stunning 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1.
Detail is outstanding throughout, with impressive close-ups revealing excellent skin textures and clothing weaves, while backgrounds soak up every little nuance. Wider shots offer gorgeous panoramic vistas, with brilliant blue skies setting the backdrop to a stunning aerial sequence. Effects-driven shots are expertly blended into the proceedings, leaving a near-seamless image fluidity. The colour scheme is broad with a vibrant, vivid and glorious palette boasting healthy almost universally tanned skin tones, gorgeous racing colours and lush sun-drenched backdrops. Black levels are strong and deep, affording excellent shadow detail, and overall, with no overt signs of any digital defects whatsoever, this is a resoundingly demo-worthy presentation, reference perfection through-and-through.
On the aural front the accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is every bit as impressive as the flawless video.
It’s a rich audio offering popping with both punch and precision. Dialogue emanates clearly and coherently across the fronts and centre channels, rising above the rest of the track and remaining prominent throughout. Effects are myriad, utilising the full array – including the LFE channel – to bring to life the expected gunshots and car growls, with roaring engines and thundering weaponry prolific in this piece, as cars thrash, fly, crash and explode their way around your living room, and bullets spray right at you. The score grounds the piece, picking up on trademark franchise riffs throughout and giving the closing moments that little extra weight, and overall it’s a supreme offering which is perfect for demo presentation and utterly reference through and through.
ExtrasCuriously, this Zavvi Exclusive UK Steelbook release for Fast & Furious 7 doesn’t follow suit with the six other F&F titles they exclusively released a few months ago specifically to tie in with the release of the seventh entry. Which makes NO sense. Fans will be scratching their heads over the jarring, out of place, addition to their collection, whilst newcomers will struggle to justify picking up the preceding films in the set because of this strange anomaly.
On the plus side, it is a lovely release, a matte, near monochromatic image; although they could have used the sombre image of Walker and Diesel which graced some of the posters, the close-up of the underbelly of the car with the whole team blurred into the background is a great choice too, and, looking on the plus-side, the reverse image cover does actually match in quite well with the front images on the previously released Zavvi collection.
Aside from the two different cuts of the film, this release boasts a strong selection of extra features which largely cover all the bases.
In order of appearance, we get a quartet of Deleted Scenes totalling 6 minutes of extra material which is largely extraneous but includes a nice additional touch to the Letty’s memories story arc. Talking Fast is a half-hour featurette that has the director taking you through key sequences and elements of the film, with a strange split-screen approach (his screen, not ours – you’ll see what I mean) that doesn’t quite work as well as you’d have hoped. Still, James Wan rattles along at breakneck pace and probably packs in almost as much information as you’d have gotten in a video commentary or PIP track.
Back to the Starting Line is a further 12 minute featurette looking back across the franchise and discussing the new additions to this latest entry; Flying Cars, Snatch and Grab and Tower Jumps all spend 6-7 minutes discussing these key sequences, whilst Inside the Fight looks at 4 main fight scenes, taking 2-3 minutes with each. The cars of Furious runs at 11 minutes and speaks for itself, whilst Race Wars offers a brief 7 minute overview of this cross-franchise element, with Making of Fast & Furious Supercharged spending a few minutes on the theme park ride, and the touching “See You Again” music video rounding off the proceedings.
Steelbook Blu-ray VerdictWith stunts and spectacles that not only justify the budget but also do diligent fan service, Fast & Furious 7 remembers those who have been along the ride right from the start almost 15 years ago, whilst paying tribute to the star who was lost along the way. Whether they can keep this whole thing going without Walker is a genuine concern, but undoubtedly they will try, and I’m already looking forward to seeing what happens next.
We close off this particular chapter with a fond, furious and fitting farewell, and a lovely steelbook with superior presentation and solid extras.
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