Fast and Furious 6 is an over-long, incredibly noisy and silly movie beset with cringe-worthy acting, laughable dialogue and a plot that I’m willing to bet was written by a bunch of high-school kids. But it’s also a ridiculously entertaining joy ride that manages to be both, a macho action flick and a movie that wears its sentimental heart on its sleeve. Call it dumb, stupid and air-headed all you want but all credit goes to director Justin Lin and team for delivering what is surely the summer’s purest adrenaline pumping rush. I dug every minute of it.
After Fast Five blew the ceiling off what this franchise could be, and became both a critical and commercial high-point for the series by changing the focus of the films from underground street car racing to a team heist picture, it was inevitable that the whole team would be back for more. Fast and Furious 6 (or Furious 6 as the opening credits dub it) more or less sticks with that unbreakable formula of a heist flick, complete with fast cars, hot chicks, big muscles, exotic locations, and high-octane over-the-top action, and ends up being even more accomplished and dazzling popcorn flick than its highly-regarded predecessor.
After making off with millions at the end of Fast Five, Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) gang including former cop and Dom’s BFF Bryan O’ Conner (Paul Walker), Dom’s sister and Byran’s wife Mia (Jordana Brester), loud-mouth Roman (Tyrese Gibson), computer genius Tej (Ludacris), and dynamic duo Han (Sung Kang) and Gisele (Gal Gadot) are all living the life in retirement across the world. But when agent Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) pays Dom a visit with news that his ex, the feisty Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), whom Dom thought off as dead after a fiery explosion in the fourth film, is alive and well in London, the gang is lured in, with an exchange for a pardon, to help Hobbs and his new partner Riley (Gina Carano) bust a London-based criminal named Oscar Shaw (Luke Evans) who Letty seems to be working for.
That’s just about it when it comes to the plot for the film, and you don’t need anything more because with that set-up, all the cogs are set in motion. The team’s first encounter with Shaw sets the bar for the rest of the movie: a 10 minute chase sequence featuring six characters and a billion cop cars zooming in and out and against traffic on the wet, twisty streets of London at night. It’s creative, exhilarating and everything you want from a chase sequence, and then some. What’s crazy is that it’s followed up by at least three outrageous set-pieces that put it to shame. An all-female brawl between Carano and Rodriguez at the London Underground intercut with a sequence where Roman and Han get their asses handed to them in spectacular fashion by a martial arts champ is one for the books. So is the film’s centerpiece where a military grade tank careens on a freeway, flattening cars like pancakes in the process.
But Lin and team save their best hand for the last because the finale of this movie, which takes place on a seemingly never-ending runway is balls-to-the-wall madness. The sequence, which features basically every character in the film, intercuts between four cars and two SUVs fighting to take down an enormous cargo plane all while Hobbs, Dom and Letty go head-to-head (sometimes literally) on a host of baddies within the plane. It’s a symphony of organized chaos, magnificently conceived and realized that must be seen to be believed. It might by the stupidest thing I’ve seen this year but that stupidity is balanced out by sheer bravura filmmaking. It left me breathless.
Six movies and 12 years in, the Fast and the Furious franchise is still chugging away like an insane runaway train. Sure they’re dumb, but they’re also shamelessly enjoyable. What matters is the heart and it’s something this sixth installment has plenty of. It’s what’s kept this series going so far, and it’s what will keep it alive for at least one more installment if the terrific end credits stinger with a big time A-lister is to be believed. Though it may never match the high art of a Christopher Nolan blockbuster or the smarts of a J.J. Abrams thriller or even the pop-cultural breakout nature of the Marvel movies, the series’ place as a guilty pleasure and landmark action franchise is secured. Great fun!