Reaching what would have seemed an improbable number of sequels when it got underway back in 2001, the seventh instalment of the Fast & Furious franchise has a lot to live up to. For starters, there’s self-imposed pressure to top the increasingly preposterous action which has become a trademark of the latter half of the series, and seems to have won over many a sceptic – including yours truly. Then there’s the tragic passing of Paul Walker, and the intertwined filmmaking challenges and need to honour his memory this posed. While Furious 7 eventually does Walker’s memory justice, it’s after an aggressively nonsensical couple of hours that struggle to match the franchise’s peak in Fast Five, even as the kitchen sink of excess is hurled non-stop at the screen.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s plenty of memorable action, from awesome dudely fisticuffs to many a flying car. Incoming director James Wan has chased the ultimate adrenaline rush here, but by the time two hours of one ludicrous globe-trotting, vehicle-destroying mission after another have played out, you’re left wondering if there is such a thing as too much. Yes, that’s a ridiculous thing to say about a Fast & Furious film, but after the heights the series has hit in the past, just going bigger does not necessarily mean better.

It’s impossible to avoid the shadow that Walker casts over the film, but the constant awareness that he’s no longer with us mixes awkwardly with the film’s lack of anything really being at stake. Absent a sense of danger, the set pieces come off cartoonish, and while that delivers plenty of action for your buck, this could have used a story or some half-decent jokes, both of which are in short supply.

‘Fast & Furious 7’ Movie Times