The seventh instalment in the relentless action-movie franchise is the brashest, noisiest, most ludicrously outrageous in the series so far. 3/5 stars
No surprises there, but what is unexpected is quite how tender the film turns out to be as a touching farewell to departed star Paul Walker, who was killed in a car crash during a break from filming in 2013.
Director James Wan had to resort to doubles and CGI to complete the film, but Walker's blue-eyed charisma still shines through. Old favourites Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson and Jordana Brewster are back, along with newcomers Jason Statham (vengeful British black-ops badass), Kurt Russell (slick CIA spook) and Nathalie Emmanuel (kidnapped hacker).
The plot makes little sense, but is a perfectly serviceable peg on which to hang a string of over-the-top action sequences. Some of these are simple slugfests, such as the bone-crunching bout between Statham and Johnson near the beginning or the even more pummelling round between Statham and Diesel towards the end.
Of course, it's the audaciously overblown vehicular stunts that are most eye-catching, notably the hair-raising scene in which Diesel jumps between Abu Dhabi's three Etihad Towers in a $3million Lykan HyperSport car and the even more palm-dampening one in which Walker scrambles along the top of a perilously tilting armoured coach as it teeters on the brink of a cliff.
Expect the Fast and Furious crew to top these scenes next time, but they'll never match the poignancy of seeing Walker at the wheel for one last sunset ride.
A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.
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