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Protagonists’ Escape Scene in “Furious 7” by Wan Essay

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Updated: Nov 4th, 2020


Furious 7 is the seventh part of a highly successful franchise Fast & Furious. The action film was directed by an Australian director, James Wan, and was released in 2015 (Gornall). Furious 7 follows the story of two friends who after returning home from their previous adventures discover that they are targeted by an assassin who is seeking to avenge the death of his younger brother (Gornall). The aim of this paper is to analyze a pivotal scene from the movie and to explore the tools of cinema that were used for its creation. Moreover, the paper will provide valuable insight into the director’s intention behind the scene.

The pivotal sequence under discussion occurs when the movie’s protagonists Dominic Toretto and Brian O’Conner, played by Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, respectively, escape from a villain in a powerful sports car. The characters perform a jump from one of the five skyscraper towers in the Etihad Towers complex, which is located in Abu Dhabi, the UAE (Gornall). Set design, lighting, costumes, location, frame, and camerawork are skillfully used by the movie’s director to show the emotional chasm between two groups of people and to provide the audience with an extraordinary cinematic experience.


The duration of the sequence is 3 minutes and 51 seconds. It takes place in a skyscraper complex, the Etihad Towers, consisting of five towers, the tallest of which reaches 1, 002 feet in height (Martin). The opening of the scene shows Vin Diesel’s character who is trying to escape from a rifle-wielding villain, Deckard Shaw, played by Jason Statham in a luxurious sports car. During the escape, Toretto drives the car out of the window of a skyscraper to safely land on a construction floor of another skyscraper tower located nearby. The character quickly discovers that malfunctioning brakes of his car do not allow him to stop the enormous acceleration of the vehicle, which drives him towards the building’s wall. After estimating the distance between the two skyscrapers, Toretto decides to perform another jump and quickly covers the distance of approximately 150 feet, thereby successfully escaping the criminal who has murderous intentions.

The scene opens with a close-up of Toretto in his car. Next to him is his friend who by virtue of not being behind the steering wheel does not have control of the situation. However, the opening shot does not capture O’Conner. Instead, it focuses on Vin Diesel’s character who can control the outcome of the chase, thereby letting the audience know that he is a key figure in the scene. The restricted and dark interior of the car symbolically represents the character’s entrapment in the situation. It can be argued that the creators of the movie skillfully use cinematic techniques in order to visually express Toretto’s mood. His posture and facial expression are suggestive of the internal tension that is caused by the prospect of immediate and horrific death that will surely follow if the jump is not performed properly. This shot provides a good example of how the use of formal elements of cinematography enhanced by camera height, angle, and distance can provide the audience with both a mental and emotional point of view.

Torretto’s body language gives off an aura of recklessness and cold determination that is almost palpable in the scene. The tension is broken by the character’s remark that it is “time to unleash the beast” (Furious 7). The phrase is reassuring and allows the audience to anticipate what might be to come. The brooding darkness of the shot changes with the brightness of luxurious settings, thereby intensifying the discrepancy between the precarious situation of the movie’s protagonists and a leisurely pastime of elegant men and women occupying one of the floors of the tower.

The mise-en-scene of the sequence is reminiscent of a theatrical play in terms of costumes and props: men are dressed in black tuxedos and women are wearing ballroom dresses. The color scheme of the shot is dominated by gold. The audience of the wealthy gathering on the floor is presented in stark contrast to the characters driving a vehicle. This represents a director’s intention to distinguish between the two activities occurring simultaneously in the scene: fight for survival and hedonistic pursuit of pleasure. Baroque detailing of the floor also creates a sense of place that underscores the contrast between the two situations. It can be argued that illumination of the scene serves as a prop for building dramatic tension because it capitalizes on the difference between the darkly-lit car and the illuminated, crowded floor, thereby intensifying the depth of vehicle frames. The floor appears to be extremely bright and soft. It emphasizes the emotional distance between the escaping characters and the crowd and stresses the importance of barriers separating them.

Unlike, the tower floor, where the important components of the setting are located far from the camera, thereby creating a deep space, the image of the car interior appears almost two dimensional. The movie director’s reliance on shallow space is another way to create a sense of suspense for the audience. The use of a suspenseful soundtrack only heightens this effect and intensifies the level of drama. However, the music also serves another function—it plays the role of an additional montage tool that softens cuts between places and periods in the scene, thus helping the audience to understand it as a whole.

When Toretto and O’Conner perform a jump from one skyscraper to another, the soundtrack is used to direct the audience’s attention with variations in tempo. These variations also help to alter the viewers’ perception of time, thus making the stunt more exciting. The scene lasts only 12 seconds, during which the music fades to the background leaving the audience gasping for breath. It allows extending the audience perception of the scene as well as to imply a sense of space between the two towers. This editing trick helps to intensify the stunt making it more impressive than it would be without the appropriate use of music. The cinematographic skill of the movie director is evident from his ability to enhance the storytelling by simply extending the function of the soundtrack. When the characters safely land after their jump, the audience’s emotions are stimulated by piano and violin duo. A deep sub-bass of the former is used to create a strong emotional relief that usually comes with an unconscious physiological response that is manifested in sweaty hands and palpitations.


Wan is highly successful in using set design, lighting, costumes, location, frame, camerawork, and other elements of mise-en-scene to show the emotional chasm between the two groups of people and provide the audience with an extraordinary cinematic experience.

Works Cited

Furious 7. Directed by James Wan, performance by Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriquez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Djimon Hounsou, Kurt Russell, and Jason Statham, Universal Pictures, 2015.

Gornall, Jonathan. “The Fast and the Furious Etihad Towers Stunt: Can it be Done?” The National, Web.

Martin, Michael. IGN, Web.

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