If you were still clinging to the wacky notion that the “Fast and Furious” franchise is somehow connected to the real world, you should have that silly idea slapped free when the first character in the movie flies through the air. Yes, I said the first character in the movie flies through the air. Like Superman, only more invincible. “Fast and Furious 6”, the latest entry in the car racing turned caper film franchise, is just as daft as the previous installment, which as you’ll recall ended with Dom and Brian dragging a giant vault between their two vehicles as they set about destroying half of Downtown Rio de Janeiro. For “Fast and Furious 6”, director Justin Lin has doubled the insanity and collateral damage and even tossed in a tank for good measure.
“Fast and Furious 6” finds Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian (Paul Walker) pulled out of retirement in an extradition-free country by global hopping lawman Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), who is chasing a notorious criminal named Shaw (Luke Evans). Hobbs has embraced that old adage it takes a thief to catch a thief, and since Hobbs seems to have carte blanche to do whatever the hell he wants, he promises pardons all around to our friendly neighborhood gang of thieves if they suit up. Dom assembles the old crew to do just that — including Han (Sung Kang) and girlfriend Gisele (Gal Gadot), along with bickering comic relief Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris). Mia (Jordana Brewster), Brian’s baby mama and Dom’s sister, is stuck at home with the baby. As for Elena (Elsa Pataky), Dom’s new girlfriend from the last movie, well, it’s kind of awkward. You see, besides that pardon, Hobbs is also dangling the fact that Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), the love of Dom’s life, is still alive and is working with Shaw’s crew.
Believed killed in “Fast & Furious” (the fourth movie), Letty is actually suffering from Daytime Soaps disease — she has amnesia. Dom is determined to rescue her at all costs, so of course Shaw does the smart thing and kills her before she compromises his perfectly planned heist of a billion dollar computer chip. Naaaaaaaaah. I’m just messin’ with ya. He does nothing of the sort, and instead just sorts of lets her hang around cause, well, I guess he likes hot brunettes with bad attitudes. Or maybe he’s just secretly not nearly as bright as the script makes him out to be. That’s what passes for intelligence in “Fast and Furious 6”, courtesy of Chris Morgan, who has written every entry since “Tokyo Drift”. This, by the way, is the least questionable logic-deprived element of the film. There are way, way bigger whoppers here, kids.
We’re told that Shaw is a super International master criminal, and to hear one incarcerated con tell it, Shaw is Hannibal Lecter and Moriarty rolled into one. (Plus, he’s got a totally sweet ‘stache.) When we first see Shaw, he’s driving around in a souped up go-cart looking thing that trashes half of London. Later, he lays waste to a freeway with a tank. Dude really likes the whole carnage thing, in case you haven’t figured it out yet. His crew, besides Letty, are made up of faceless lads and lasses (including a hulking enforcer and “The Raid’s” Joe Taslim). What drives Dom and company after Shaw, and the ways they go about it, are really unimportant, and frankly, Morgan and Lin put so little thought into the connecting tissues that make up “Fast and Furious 6’s” plot that I feel dumber for even having wasted a nanosecond thinking about them.
Curiously enough, the only real relationship in the entire film that even seems genuine is Han and Gisele. This leads, of course, directly into the events of “The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift”, which is bridged with the rest of the franchise via a post-credit scene. Dom’s rather complicated love life is cringe inducing, and Brian gets a brief interlude that involves him getting locked up, but is there because, well, Paul Walker has co-marquee billing, dammit. Shot almost entirely in London, “Fast and Furious 6” gives Lin the opportunity to shoot some impressive race sequences around identifiable landmarks, with the finale taking place on what is apparently the world’s longest airport runway. Seriously, that runaway goes on for about 20 miles. On the plus side, Tyrese Gibson is hilarious as the comic relief.
Make no mistake about it: “Fast and Furious 6” has everything that made the last movie a $600-plus million dollar worldwide box office juggernaut, even if they did give away the film’s money shot in the trailers. So if you enjoyed the hell out of the last movie, you’ll eat this one up with a shovel. The first mega car chase kicks off barely 20 minutes into the film, and there are some pretty nice fist fights throughout, including a pair of “tube” throwdowns, one between Hobbs’ new teammate played by Gina Carano and Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty. I guess after he lost so many men in the last movie, Hobbs decided to just bring one girl along this time. Hey, it makes just as much sense as the rest of the film. Since we’re at part 6 now (with part 7 already ready to go), there’s no place for the series to go but even bigger, louder, and dumber. The thing is, when I call a movie like “Fast and Furious 6” dumb, that’s not an insult. Which, I guess, is kind of an insult. Though not really.
Justin Lin (director) / Chris Morgan (screenplay)
CAST: Dwayne Johnson … Luke Hobbs
Vin Diesel … Dominic Toretto
Luke Evans … Owen Shaw
Paul Walker … Brian O’Conner
Michelle Rodriguez … Letty Ortiz
Elsa Pataky … Elena Neves
Jordana Brewster … Mia Toretto
Gina Carano … Riley
Gal Gadot … Gisele Harabo
Sung Kang … Han
Tyrese Gibson … Roman Pearce
Ludacris … Tej Parker