Ahead of its 3 April release, Universal Pictures held private fan screenings of Fast and the Furious 7, across the US on Monday evening. People who managed to attend these special screenings, were delighted when stars from the film including Tyrese Gibson (San Francisco, California), Ludacris (Atlanta, Georgia), Jordana Brewster (Miami, Florida), and Vin Diesel himself (Los Angeles) came out to introduce the latest instalment.
For several fans, it was an emotional moment when they got to see Paul Walker on the big screen. Before the screening, the film's producer Neal Moritz appealed to viewers not to reveal what becomes of Walker's character in the film, reports Sky News.
"We honestly lost a dear friend, brother, comrade, while we were making this movie," Moritz said. "When we decided we were going to continue this movie, we were determined to honour his legacy and our love for him."
Walker's character Brian appears within the first 15 minutes as a settled family man, but he's restless for the underworld of crime, illegal street racing and heists led by Diesel's Dominic.
The film ended with a tribute to Walker, closing with the words "For Paul" written in black against a white backdrop.
Here's a spoiler-free review roundup of the movie
The film's story more or less stays close to what the franchise has evolved into - a good guy vs. bad guy heist caper. Regarding the film's storyline, The Hollywood Reporter (THR) review states: (via Yahoo)
"Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), brother of the crew's defeated enemy Owen Shaw, has vowed to kill them all in revenge; an all-seeing surveillance program called God's Eye has been stolen by terrorists; the creator of said program (Nathalie Emmanuel's Ramsey) needs to be rescued; and a mysterious lawman with his own private army (Kurt Russell, who any oddsmaker would say is bound to be hiding something) promises to help Vin Diesel's Dom get Deckard if Dom's team will get Ramsey and the God's Eye."
Talking about Walker's role and performance, Variety review says, "Although Walker could never have known this would be his final performance, it may be the ultimate compliment to say that he plays each moment as though it were his last. And, when the time does come for his Brian O'Conner to bid adieu, the movie arranges it in a way that feels fully earned and well within the boundaries of good taste."
ScreenCrush mentions how the film stays true to its core and at times comes across as the final film in the franchise, even though that might not be the case.
"Furious 7 almost certainly won't be the last Fast & Furious movie. But at times it feels like the series' farewell. There are numerous callbacks and homages to the franchise's entire 15-year history. The set pieces are bigger and crazier than ever, and it's hard to imagine anyone topping them. And before the chases really get rolling, the mood is often downright mournful..."
While describing the well executed gravity-defying stunt sequences in the film and CGI portions of Paul Walker...THR states that viewers and fans will "have no trouble believing Paul Walker is in this film from start to finish."