The Fast and The Furious franchise has always raised a lot of questions for me.  Why aren’t there more cars? Why did the fifth installment, Fast Five, resort to the word ‘five’ rather than the number? What’s the deal with Tokyo Drift? And why has the Fast been dropped for Furious 7?

Trying to move on from a life of running from the law Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) tries to settle down with amnesiac Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) whilst Brian (Paul Walker) attempts to become a good Dad.  Trouble returns in the form of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) who, wanting to avenge the injuries that his brother Owen received in the previous episode, breaks into the office of Hobs (Dwayne Johnson) to find the identities of the crew, almost killing Hobs in the process, going on to murder Han in Tokyo and blow up Dom’s house.  As covert ops  need a special team to retrieve a hacker who has created a digital tracking device, God’s Eye, they recruit Dom’s gang to find the tracker who then will be allowed to use God’s Eye to track down Shaw.

There’s lots going on in this film, almost too much going on, which means the 137 minutes running time is packed full of stuff.  The tech storyline, built in to create a device for Dom to find Deckard Shaw is somewhat obsolete, even though it does bring us a nice cameo role from Kurt Russell as the covert ops boss. Shaw, being one of those rouge special forces types,  just keeps turning up anyway, so if they just stood still for a bit they wouldn’t need God’s Eye and all the trouble it takes to find it. Shaw would just appear, like Mr Ben with a very particular set of skills, skills he has acquired over a very long career that make him a nightmare for people like Dom.

With all that’s happening, the movie seems torn between many different aspects of the story. Hobbs is in hospital, Letty is trying to remember things, Brian missing his old life of dodging bullets, Dom trying to protect everyone, Jason Statham performing stilted fight sequences when he is required to do so, but all of the action is overshadowed by how they are going to resolve Paul Walker’s part in the film.  After Walker’s death in 2013 it wasn’t even certain that this picture would be released. The choices they have made for Brian’s character are a fitting tribute.

I’m a fan of this franchise, but there was something about this installment which just didn’t pitch up. This feeling may be to do with the fact that I saw the movie shortly after Wild Card, which I thought was a glorious example of an action picture and frankly Furious 7 paled by comparison. It’s still full of chases, stunts and big explosions, the sequences in Abu Dhabi being the best example of all of these elements, but it’s just not as fast or as furious as the other movies in the franchise.