Vin Diesel's claims that this movie deserves an Oscar might not be as crazy as you think

Credit: Everett

Don’t bother planning any parties, trying to meet up for brunch, or asking any of your friends to babysit this weekend. Everyone you know is going to be at Furious 7 (pundits are predicting that the box office will go north of $100 million). Here’s the shocker: The film is so good, Vin Diesel‘s comments that it could win Oscars might not be delusional.

There are tons of reasons to see the movie, but you already know the biggest one: Go for Paul. It’s clear the cast and crew want the film to be a memorial to the late actor, and it is, with deeply emotional scenes that may produce a tear or two. But the better news is that it’s also a stunningly entertaining action movie, so buckle up.

1. The story is ridiculously fun

International criminals are so pesky. Take Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), the bad boy from Fast 6. Not only is he still alive at the beginning of our latest adventure, his brother Deckard (Jason Statham) is miffed that Dom (Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker) and the gang tried to take him out. It’s smash or be smashed for our friends, in a chase that runs from Azerbaijan to Abu Dhabi, back here to America. It’s only when Kurt Russell joins in, as a black-ops government suit using the “family” to secure a next-level GPS device created by hacker Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), that you think: Hey, wasn’t this franchise about car-racing? Once upon a time, my friends. Once upon a time.

2. The stunts have never been crazier

When cars rolling backwards out of a plane to parachute past massive trees and land on the side of a mountain is the least interesting part of a scene, you know things are off the chain. Director James Wan (replacing longtime Furious chief Justin Lin) goes for broke on the screen. Vehicles will plunge from ridiculous heights, plow into each other head-on, and, yes, fly.

3. Every action movie needs Jason Statham

If the metallic collisions aren’t enough, there are plenty of the human kind. With an internationally recognized badass like Statham on board, Furious 7 plays to the six-year-old fight promoter in all of us: What if Statham and the Rock had a massive fight? Who’d win? What if Statham went up against Diesel? Who’d still have a face in the end? Furious 7 provides those answers. Seriously, I don’t care if he’s just in sitting in a café sipping a latte, put him in every action movie ever.

4. Ludacris and Tyrese are hilarious

Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) are comedy gold, giving the movie time to breathe – all the more important in the wake of Walker’s loss. Gibson is especially funny, as Roman tries to step up and lead, but finds that it’s hard to shake his neuroses. Plus, there’s the small matter of the woman they’d both like to romance: hacker Ramsey. Given that Tej is the techie in the group, I’d put money on him. But we all know R&B star Gibson has those woman-wooing pipes.

5. There’s just enough mush between Letty and Dom

Here’s where the family starts. It’s always been about Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Dom (Diesel), but her amnesia remains a complication. Wan carves out time for the two to deal with their issues, without taking away from the main action. It’s sweet, but we all know that their relationship drama isn’t the emotional hurdle we need to get over.

6. The film works despite losing Paul Walker

Walker’s death during the middle of filming naturally threw the movie into a tailspin. Production was delayed as rewrites took place and Wan and his crew figured out how to continue without their star. The inventive solution they came up with was to use as much of Walker’s footage as possible, while also splicing in footage and voice recordings from Walker’s brothers, Caleb and Cody, and actor John Brotherton. The result is nearly seamless. The film’s structure is solid, Walker is very much present and it’s extremely difficult to tell where the cutting and pasting begin.

7. They send Paul off right

Fast 7‘s true emotional center is Brian (Walker). Now that he’s a father, he’s finding it difficult to settle into domestic life with Mia (Jordana Brewster). “I miss the bullets,” he confesses. Well, bullets he gets, as he and the crew head back out to stop Deckard. But is that what’s right for his family? There’s a wrenching scene in which Brian tells Mia that if anything happens to him, she has to go on without him. The weight of the moment hits the audience, but it doesn’t bring the film down. On the contrary, Furious 7 works hard to make our experience of Brian as buoyant and fulfilling as possible. The way it tips its hat to him is touching and respectful. Tissues might be handy, particularly during a brief photo montage that reminds us that this series has gone on for a decade and a half. Seeing old pictures of Walker and Diesel looking so very young is almost like watching the Harry Potter kids grow up. I’m just glad we got to come along for the ride.