Furious 7

By Christopher Redmond

Mailed on April 07, 2015

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Dear Vincent Caudeville
Facial Animator

Dear Vincent,

Face it – nobody wanted you on this film. But it’s not your fault. Your position on Furious 7 was one born of tragedy.

After Fast and Furious star Paul Walker was all-too-ironically killed while speeding in a Porsche Carrera GT, the only way to complete production was with the help of Walker’s two similar looking brothers, Caleb and Cody, and Weta’s top-notch team of special effects animators like you. There must have been moments when the collision between art and life felt a bit much to take. Still, you had a job to do. This red-hot action franchise has grown into an unstoppable machine, even more surreal than the chaos on screen. And that’s saying a lot.

Now the film is complete, your work is seamless, and the result is… unreal. In the best possible way. Never once did I feel a camera cheat or compromise. Quite the opposite. Furious 7 is pushing what’s possible in action cinema, and often left me speechless in my chair.

Let me try and paint you a picture in terms you’ll no doubt understand:

Dilated pupils, bated breath – the lights finally lower in the theatre and the Universal logo takes over the screen. I’m way too revved up to see this film considering I only hopped on the bandwagon at Fast Five.

Cheeks go flush – my man-crush, Jason Statham, makes his debut in the franchise, walking slowly out of a hospital in the aftermath of an encounter with a British tactical SWAT team. Without an ounce of sweat or expression, he struts away from explosions in slow motion like the boss he is.

Head cocks slightly to the left. A befuddled wince appears – the title reads Furious Seven, instead of Furious 7 (like all the ads). I flash back to how the last film was promoted as Fast & Furious 6, but the opening credits called it Furious 6. Then the fourth film is just called Fast & Furious instead of The Fast and The Furious … This franchise is a hot mess and I don’t care.

Biting the lower lip, à la Anastasia Steele – Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez show up at some Race Wars contest in the desert, where an abundance of bikini babes may or may not be in front of expensive cars (I’m not really a car guy). More ass than an Iggy Azalea video. Speaking of which, there she is.

Forced laugh followed by a sad smile – the first close-up of Paul Walker, intercut with pressing foot pedals and jumping speed needles. Somehow, it’s predictably paid-off by revealing he’s behind the wheel of a mini-van, dropping his kid off at school. He really did have a lovely face. Whether or not it’s digital never crosses my mind.

Big-ass stupid grin – The whole team is together, in darkness, behind the wheels of different cars. Tyrese, of course, plays the clown, rhetorically asking how they keep getting into these situations. My jaw lowers in tandem with the loading ramp of the cargo plane they’re all aboard. Skydiving cars was the next logical adventure, and it doesn’t disappoint.

Various vowels form on my lips, mainly Os and Es, trying to register the insanity on screen for the next two hours – it would take too long to describe each and every moment, from the OMGs of escaping buses on clifftops, to the WTFs of kicking the asses of hijab wearing female guards in Abu Dhabi, to the LOLs of The Rock flexing off his full arm cast. Suffice to say, no franchise commands a greater range of facial expressions than the Fast and Furious.

And of course, there’s the dedication, “For Paul”. The final montage was as predictable and on-the-nose as every line of dialogue in this film, and equally as welcomed and satisfying. You may or may not have caught a small tear in the corner of my eye. Otherwise, this film was sheer joy.

Grinning ear-to-ear,


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