Fast & Furious 7 (PG13)
138 minutes/Opens tomorrow/**1/2
The story: The crew are now happily settled back in Los Angeles following the events of the previous film. But black ops-trained assassin Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) appears, seeking to avenge the death of his brother, Owen (Luke Evans). In the meantime, the team has to carry out a series of heists for Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell), a representative of a shadowy government agency. The schemes will take the crew to the mountains of Eastern Europe and Abu Dhabi, ending back in Los Angeles.
As Michelle Rodriguez told the press last week in Beijing in her usual blunt manner, nobody at the studio cares what you do with the story as long as the action scenes are great. And action is served, at timed intervals and in oversized portions, like a four-course meal at an American rib restaurant.
The "plot", if you want to stretch the meaning of the word to include the goings-on in this enterprise, is a formality and, often, you get the feeling that its makers consider it a nuisance.
Try to remember what happened in the last few Fast & Furious films and it will blend into one head-crushingly loud montage of vehicles flipping and exploding.
Some have compared the structure of the Fast movies to a video game; others say it is more like a Western or martial arts movie in which a band of renegades roam the earth having adventures.
What this assortment of stunt "bits" - some loud, involving crashing cars, and some softer, involving "feelings" - looks more like is the Jackass (2002-2011) series of movies, except without the humour or creativity.
The latest movie in the multi-billion- dollar property that is the Fast franchise is the first for director James Wan and it is his first feature to not be about devil dolls or serial torturers (Saw, 2004; The Conjuring, 2013).
If he has placed his stamp on the franchise, it is not visible here. Like the sixth movie in 2013, this seventh work has a scene in which cars face off military hardware and another with cars jumping off an airplane. Wan just makes everything louder and last longer.
This goes well beyond deja vu. Following formula is for amateurs; the Fast makers know that self-plagiarism is easier and more profitable.