'Fast & Furious 6' (PG-13)
Yet another installment of fast, dumb fun in the hugely popular franchise.
If Fast & Furious 6 were any dumber, the script would have been written in crayon.
But no one goes to any installment in this car-chase, skull-bashing slam-o-rama expecting education, enlightenment or, heck, even a story that makes any kind of sense. You go for cool cars, stupid stunts (as in, you’d be stupid to try these at home), bone-crushing brawls that barely leave a mark and — in the case of this sixth film — two, count ’em, two vicious girlfights. If all of these things sound appealing, then Fast & Furious 6 delivers handsomely. In fact, in terms of sheer action adrenaline, it may be the best film of the franchise.
At the start of the film, our heroes are chilling out from their last crime-busting adventure in Rio covered in episode five. Brian (Paul Walker) is a new dad. Dominic (Vin Diesel) is living in sun-drenched, tropical splendor with his girlfriend. Han (Sung Kang) and Gisele (Gal Gadot) are planning their life together. Roman (Tyrese Gibson) is winging his way to Macao on a private jet full of young beauties. And Tej (Chris Bridges, aka Ludacris) just seems mostly concerned about saving his money.
But wall o’ man federal agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) drops a bomb of bad news on them. He tells Dominic that he needs to get the gang back together to nab a group of high-tech street-racing toughs who are using their nefarious skills to stage daring robberies and raids. Working under the direction of the evil Shaw (Luke Evans), a former top British soldier who has gone over to the dark side, they’re after a top-secret government microchip.
To add romantic insult to criminal injury, Shaw has Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), a former member of Dominic’s dream team and his former love interest who we thought died in a previous movie, on his side. Say what?
So it’s off to London to put a stop to Shaw’s madness — and turn the city’s narrow, twisting streets into a death-dealing racetrack. Director Justin Lin and screenwriters Chris Morgan and Gary Scott Thompson, all veterans of the franchise, wisely keep dialogue and plot to a bare enough minimum to qualify as a movie and not a stunt reel.
The focus is on the action, and they turn out some head-snapping sequences: a chase along a highway with an Army tank squashing cars like ants, pummeling fights between Letty and female agent Riley (Gina Carano), and a jaw-dropping confrontation between Han, Roman and one of Shaw’s nimble minions (the awesome Indonesian action star and judo champ Joe Taslim, who was in The Raid: Redemption, one of the best martial-arts movies of the past decade). Then there’s the finale involving a plane, a fleet load of fast cars and what has to be the world’s longest runway.
It’s almost enough to distract from the fact that hardly anyone ever breaks a sweat, let alone bones, after being involved in multiple car wrecks, falls from great heights onto speeding metal and glass, and fights too numerous to mention.
OK, so F&F 6 is a little light on the laws of physics and biology as well as intellectual stimulation. But that’s all right. Actually, the script may have been written in crayon after all, but at least they used the big 64 box.
Cast: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Luke Evans, Elsa Pataky, Gina Carano, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris.
Director: Justin Lin.
Screenwriter: Chris Morgan.
Producers: Vin Diesel, Neal H. Moritz, Clayton Townsend.
A Universal Pictures release. Running time: 130 minutes. Vulgar language, action mayhem, sexual situations. Opens Friday May 24 at area theaters.