Just when you thought the Fast and Furious crew had taken their “last ride,” the almighty dollar, er, the need to tell the next chapter in the series brings audiences the seventh installment. In case you had thought that fully teaming up with US Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) to take down international mercenary Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) was the biggest trick you’d get to see from Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and crew, then you weren’t dreaming big enough.
Shaw’s older brother, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is not happy with the condition of his little brother and is on a one man quest to take out Toretto and company one by one. To get ahead of Shaw, Toretto and crew learn of the existence of a powerful hacking program called The God’s Eye. It uses any and all networked devices in the world to help geolocate anyone on the planet. The crew is in a race against time to find the program and its creator before Shaw gets too close.
Since most of the plot feels like they couldn’t decide between two competing storylines (the God’s Eye or Deckard Shaw’s Revenge), Furious 7 definitely feels like the longest in the Fast and Furious series to date (and it is). It is filled with incredibly expensive cars, incredibly good looking actors, incredibly ludicrous chase scenes, and enough partially bared flesh to make most people blush. The disappointing part is that even with all of those ingredients, I found myself bored at times. I freely admit that it could have been that the big “shock” moments most of these films give us (ie. racing a tank down a freeway!) were spoiled by the trailers. I also cite a grievous error of the filmmakers for not following Joss Whedon’s advice when making a sequel to “Don’t go bigger; go deeper.” which this movie most certainly does not do. But hey, for a “popcorn flick” it likely gets the job done for your average moviegoer. I believe most people won’t be as disappointed as I was because, well, they are going to see a movie about people driving cars… fast– and that definitely happens!
I can imagine many people would question why a “Christian” would even want to see a film like Furious 7. I fully believe in the idea that all writers, actors, and directors are created in God’s image (whether they believe in Him or not) meaning that they are going to be participating in or creating stories that will ultimately either ask, answer, or represent some truth about life– or even about God himself. But, putting that aside, at one point in time, I used to ask why anyone of any spiritual background would want to see a Fast and Furious movie. But, after the fifth or sixth one, I found myself wondering what all the hubbub was about. Beginning with the original installment, I got a lot of what I expected; explosions, scantily clad ladies, muscles, cars, muscle cars– and of course, people driving very fast and very furious(ly). I believe it took until the fifth installment before I began to see what was going on behind the flash and popcorn-to-mouth-shoveling racing scenes. There is a story taking shape that is really connecting with current audiences. It’s a story that you find in an incredibly wide array of films, from Serenity to The Godfather— and it’s about family.
“Whether I’m a quarter mile away or halfway across the world, the most important people in the room are mi familia.” -Dominic Toretto
I totally get that this idea of family could get lost somewhere in between all of director James Wan’s low-angle pans of gyrating posteriors, but (no pun intended) it is there. If you don’t believe it, Toretto awkwardly reminds you every 15-20m of the film (“I don’t have friends. I got family.”). In a world where people continue to find themselves moving to new cities or states or countries for education or careers, people will always need community. Sure, some people can live without it for awhile, but it is not how we were designed. Even God said it was not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18).
So how does community become family? In Toretto’s world, you strive for a common cause and if you aren’t already blood, then you are adopted into the family (or familia). Whether you are born into the family or you become a part of a “found family” (or “family of choice”), you are welcomed in because of your common goal or common love for one another. This acceptance– especially when you are not born into the family, is something that is incredibly attractive. When we see Toretto offering it and claiming it, there is a sense of longing to be a part of something that transcends blood.
“And I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” -2 Corinthians 6:18
Christ has seen us in our separation of relationship with Him and made a way for us to once again become part of God’s family– to be called sons and daughters. The best part is that this family isn’t just a group of people who all like the same TV show, or who all like to drive fast cars, or who all root for the same sports team, or who all graduated from the same alma mater. This family is brought together by a Father that created our very beings. He knows us inside and out, every part, every longing. It is the family of families. By being a part of it, you will truly “never walk alone.”
But I get it. Toretto isn’t offering his crew eternal life. It’s not an obvious allegory– or even intentional. It does connect with people though. And it connects because in each of us, in our Imago Dei, we long for acceptance into a community that is bigger than us. We long for a family that is full of furious love.