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Latest Fast instalment is a fitting send-off for the late Paul Walker

MoviesBy Esther McCarthy
Action man: Paul Walker in his final role
Action man: Paul Walker in his final role

THE spirit of Paul Walker looms large in this latest instalment in the hugely popular Fast & Furious series.

Walker, who died tragically in a driving accident halfway through filming this movie, gets a moving and beautifully judged tribute at the end of this latest testosterone-charged instalment. 
 
The Fast and the Furious series should have ran out of gas years ago – but it has only grown in popularity.  
 
Somewhere after the horribly bad third movie in the series – the dire Tokyo Drift – director Justin Lin and his team decided that they needed to reinvent the films. 
 
Instead of more of the same jaded and formulaic – though very lucrative – movies set around the worlds of speed and racing, they went for another approach: To make good action, crime and heist movies and set the racing around those plots. 
 
The idea was a massive success. Racing junkies still got their fix but action fans and casual movie-goers were drawn in too. The last two films coined an incredible $1.5bn at the international box office.
 
 
Now the series has lost one of its most charismatic stars with the death of Paul Walker. And while the series would appear to have some gas left in the tank, this is all about paying tribute to Walker with a good action film. 
 
Filming was delayed for several months while new director James Wan rewrote scripts and scenes with his team in a bid to get the film completed. Walker’s brothers, Caleb and Cody, were also used as stand-ins in an effort to complete his remaining scenes. 
 
After successfully taking on their foe Owen Shaw in the last film, Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and his gang, lead by Brian O’Connor (Walker), can finally plan a return to the US to live the relatively normal lives they’ve all been hankering after. 
 
But they didn’t bank on the arrival of Owen’s tough older brother, Deckard Shaw (new cast member Jason Statham), who is hell-bent on avenging his brother’s death – and shows pretty quickly that he has the capacity to do just that.
 
The Toretto crew are left with little choice but to get badass and defend their own.
 
Throw in a rogue law enforcer type who cracks a deal with the Toretto gang to support them if they find him a vital piece of computer software, and you’ve got the sort of silly caper that FF does so well. 
 
There are problems. The extended final action sequence is way too CGI-heavy and could have been a good 15 minutes shorter. 
 
Wan does a solid job, but I’d like to see the return of Lin for the inevitable eighth movie. But the entertainment value is high, and when the tribute to Walker does come, it’s a fitting goodbye.
 
THE VERDICT: A decent addition to the world’s most successful action series (3/5).