Action Franchise Isn’t Out of Gas Yet
Fast & Furious 6, as the title implies, is the sixth installment in the long-running action film series. Viewers should put on their seat belts and get ready for over two hours worth of joyriding. Vehicular mayhem never looked this good—so good, in fact, the producers apparently felt compelled to tag a disclaimer on the reel before the credits begin to roll. The film series started out as a vehicle (pun intended) for then-burgeoning action actor Vin Diesel (an apropos surname given the film setting). Since the first film premiered in 2001, it has grown to encompass several more co-stars in its subsequent sequels, leading into its current incarnation as a multicultural ensemble of drag-racing avengers.
This time around, Diesel’s Dominic Toretto and former adversary-turned-brother-in-law Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) are visited by globetrotting Interpol agent Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and presented with the proverbial offer they can’t refuse: Letty (Michelle Hernandez), a heretofore deceased member of Toretto’s crew, was recently seen helping out internationally-wanted criminal Shaw (Luke Evans). Shaw’s team of outlaws use similar car-heavy tactics to pull off their heists, and so if Toretto’s squad can beat them at their own game, a full pardon—and a reunion with Letty—is the reward. So the Fast & Furious team comes back again for one last job.
The object of Shaw’s affection is the film’s MacGuffin: a computer database that can disable military security systems. It’s fair to say, however, that this is entirely irrelevant to the film, as this screen franchise has built its brand on wilder-than-impossible stunt sequences and the interplay between Toretto’s team: chatterbox Roman (Tyrese Gibson), gizmo guru Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), laid-back Han (Sung Kang) and tough-girl Gisele (Gal Gadot). Another tag-along this time is Hobb’s right-hand agent Riley (Gina Carano), who gets to showcase her real-life UFC fighting skills in several confrontations.
This is one of the best comic-book films of the year that aren’t based on a comic (screenplay credit goes to Chris Morgan). Despite the relatively threadbare plot (and settings that hip-hop from Moscow to Los Angeles to London and more), director Justin Lin keeps everything from being the flailing mess that it might otherwise be in lesser hands. Sweeping, wide-camera views of urban cityscapes and chasm-spanning bridges help add to the spectacle, and the climax is as exhilarating as it is shamelessly over-the-top. If the epilogue is any indicator, the close-ups of gear-shifting and revving engines definitely haven’t ended.