1. Furious 7 (Universal, 4004 Theaters, 137 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for prolonged frenetic sequences of violence, action and mayhem, suggestive content and brief strong language, Rotten Tomatoes: 82% Fresh [113 Reviews]): I saw Fast & Furious 6 and fell in love with the franchise again. The first film was surprisingly good, but then the quality dipped as stars left, came back and left again.
But the sixth installment was mindless fun. Just sit back and watch the characters go through the basic plot line and be entertained by the fancy cars and the impressive stunt work. I looked forward to this installment quite a lot.
Then series star Paul Walker died during filming, causing the film to be delayed. That would be enough to cast a pall over any film, but the fact that he died in a high-speed car accident made the shadow over the film even bigger. And, if that wasn’t enough, this film’s plot is propelled by the on-screen death of one of the characters in a car wreck. All of a sudden, mindless fun became a morbid curiosity.
I guess it would be up to us to not let the real world events behind the film influence our enjoyment of the film. I’m just not sure I could do that.