When a big, stupid, assaultive franchise flick is about to open and break the box-office, as is the case with James Wan‘s Furious 7, most critics play it smart by “reviewing” with a light touch. Like smirking bullfighters, they toy with the beast rather than plunge a lance. “What’s the point of actually taking this one on?,” they seem to be saying. “A pan will just make me and my newspaper or website look old-fogeyish and out of touch with the megaplexers. What the hell…I’ll just ironically admire it and flick my frilly handerchief and make gentle sport of my real feelings.

“And what perverse fun it is, when you think about it, to give a pass to a corporate muscle-car movie that is totally and in fact purposefully opposed to the organic, real-world excitement of a classic fast-car flick like Bullitt or Gone in Sixty Seconds or Drive. The truth is that I don’t like real fast-car movies any more than James Wan does. So I’ll just tee-hee my way through the writing of this piffle of a review and then take a nice lunch…hey!”

This, trust me, was the attitude that N.Y. Times critic A.O. Scott had when he wrote his foo-foo positive review. Along with what I gather will be a similar piece from Philadelphia Inquirer “beardo” critic Sam Adams. I know what their game is. They’ve wearing their hush-puppies and their irony sunglasses and giving us their Charles Durning impression: “Oooh, I love to dance a little sidestep…now they see me, now they don’t…I’ve come and gone.”

Miami Herald critic Rene Rodriguez, on the other hand, is man enough to lay it on the line. “In Furious 7, the unstoppable franchise sputters and stalls, edging from spectacular, tongue-in-cheek B-movie fun to soulless, insulting inanity. Here is a film in which nothing is at stake: Cars crash into each other head-on at high speeds, vehicles sail off cliffs and tumble down rocky mountainsides, people jump out of buildings and fall six stories to the ground, then characters just dust themselves off and continue as if nothing had happened. [The film] plunges free-fall into absurd, cartoonish nonsense.”

From my 3.31 review: “The stars of Furious 7 can do any stupid-ass, Wile E. Coyote vs. Road Runner stunt they want and it doesn’t matter at all. Everyone in this film is a T-1000 or an Arnold-style ‘good’ Terminator. And outside of the carefully constructed real of James Cameron‘s two Terminator films, which I loved, it doesn’t get much emptier than that.”