It is fast and it is furious. In that respect, it does exactly what it says on the tin. But don't make the mistake of thinking that the fourth instalment in this franchise is adrenalin-junkie fare. There are fast cars aplenty, but this is seriously lacking in personality and flair.

After pulling his latest high-speed heist, Dom Toretto (Diesel) has skipped town in order to protect the lovely Letty (Rodriguez) from being found in his company when the law catches up with him. But his plan backfires when Letty's motor ends up wrapped around a tree and Toretto's young lady friend winds up with some killer lead in her. He wants revenge and he will stop at nothing to get it (yes, it's that bad).

Meanwhile across town, FBI agent Brian O'Conner (Walker) is putting himself in the running for the Least Convincing Character ever... Supposedly, he lives life on the edge, has a bit of a problem with authority and interprets the law a bit loosely. In reality, he's far too clean-cut and prim-and-proper to make any such impact, but more of that later (lots more). O'Conner has been charged with assisting in the operation to track down a notorious drug lord by infiltrating his trafficking operation. Toretto wants in on the same scheme, but he's got bloodshed in mind - an eye for an eye and all that. Essentially, they're playing on the same team but coming at it from very different stand-points (Feeling a little bit like it's all too predictable yet?).

Cue a few decent-ish high-speed chases through the streets of Los Angeles and over the Mexican border (via a tunnel, if you don't mind), plenty of smashes, souped-up cars with go-faster stripes and also a bit too much misplaced emotion (tears for the murdered girlfriend one minute, flirting with the enemy the next... it's all in a day's work I suppose!). The problem (well, the main one anyway) with this is that it relies a little heavily on you knowing the history between the characters and, as such, doesn't really work as a stand-alone movie.

Fans of the previous movies will probably be glad to see Diesel back doing what he does best, ie being all broody and tough and driving like a maniac. But Walker has about as much charisma as a postage stamp. His character rocks up to an illegal road race wearing practically his Sunday best and you're somehow meant to believe that this is credible to the gang he is trying to infiltrate in his undercover capacity. He gives off the attitude of someone who thinks he's a lot cooler than he is, and as a result you never get the relationships he's supposed to have formed with either Mia (Brewster) or Dom Toretto.

If you enjoy hearing the sound of screaming engines, like to have a giggle at appallingly obviously plots with characterless characters or just need to escape from the in-laws for an hour or so, then maybe, just maybe, part with your money... but keep the receipt.

Linda McGee