Fast & Furious 7 is the brashest, noisiest, most ludicrously outrageous in the series so far - and a touching farewell to departed star Paul Walker.

Fast & Furious 7 Paul Walker

Fast & Furious 7, the seventh instalment in the relentless action-movie franchise, is the brashest, noisiest, most ludicrously outrageous in the series so far. No surprises there. When it comes to spectacular stunts and exaggerated automotive mayhem each Fast & Furious outing has always sought to outdo its predecessors.

What is unexpected is quite how tender and poignant the film should turn out to be, a touching farewell to departed star Paul Walker, who was killed in a car crash during a break from filming the movie in 2013. New director James Wan had to resort to doubles (including Walker’s two brothers) and CGI to complete Furious 7, but take away the cinematic trickery and Walker’s blue-eyed charisma still shines through.

Fast & Furious 7  Jason Statham

At the start of the film, his character, undercover-FBI-agent-turned-carjacker Brian O’Conner, has taken his foot off the pedal. Now that Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto and his carjacking gang/’family’ have called it a day, Brian is trying to lead a life of suburban domesticity with Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and their child, but doing the school run in a mini van is no substitute for life in the fast lane. He misses the bullets.

Naturally, the peace and quiet isn’t destined to last. Jason Statham’s British black-ops badass is gunning for the gang, seeking revenge for the death of his brother (seen off in Furious 6). And then Kurt Russell’s slick CIA spook turns up needing Dom’s crew to rescue a kidnapped hacker (played by Hollyoaks’ Nathalie Emmanuel) being held by terrorists.

Fast and Furious 7 - Nathalie Emmanuel

The plot doesn’t make much sense, of course, but it’s a perfectly serviceable peg on which to hang a string of over-the-top action sequences. Some of these are out-and-out slugfests, such as the bone-crunching bout between Statham’s villain and Dwayne Johnson’s Agent Hobbs that lands Hobbs in plaster near the beginning or the even more pummelling round Statham and Diesel go through towards the end.

But it’s the audaciously overblown vehicular stunts that are the most eye-catching, notably the hair-raising scene in which Diesel’s Dom jumps between the three Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi in a $3.4million Lykan HyperSport car and the even more palm-dampening one in which Walker’s Brian scrambles along the top of a perilously tilting armoured coach as it teeters on the brink of a cliff.

Expect the Fast & Furious crew to top these scenes next time around. What they will be very hard pressed to do, however, is match the poignancy of seeing Walker at the wheel for one last sunset ride. starstrip4[1]

Certificate 12A. Runtime 137 mins. Director James Wan.