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Chapter six in the venerable F&F series may not be the best or worst installment, but it’s definitely the loudest. FAST AND FURIOUS 6 is a crash’n’bash orgy of fast cars, exploding vehicles and crunching metal in an amazingly silly but undeniably entertaining serving of action-movie franchise fodder. It brings back all of the main characters from the preceding F&F films (except Lucas Black from F&F3: TOKYO DRIFT, the HALLOWEEN III of this series) and adds mixed martial arts champ Gina Carano (HAYWIRE) for some fun kicks-to-the-groin combat. The first F&F way back in 2001 was about humble street racers, and now this same lead-footed group is foiling Bond villains intent on world domination. F&F6 finds Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker) and the rest of the crew, which includes Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges) and Gisele (Gal Gadot), retired from action with enough money to live comfortably after the Rio heist from F&F5. Things change, however, when bullheaded (and bullet-headed) DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) offers them a deal: help him snare a criminal outfit of highly-skilled drivers and they’ll receive full pardons all round. Though initially unconvinced, Dom is persuaded when it turns out his presumed-dead girlfriend, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), is still alive and working with the leader of the outfit, former special forces mercenary turned  felon Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) who fronts a sadistically efficient gang of hijackers out to steal enough military equipment to start WWIII.

Screenwriter Chris Morgan is less important to FAST AND FURIOUS 6 than the stunt coordinators, who’ve dreamt up several big laws-of-physics-be-damned action sequences, at least two of which are real barnburners.  One featuring a tank on a highway that destroys at least 100 other vehicles is reminiscent of the opening of the newest Die Hard chapter and features that frenetic, swish-pan style pioneered by Michael Bay. The other’s an extended chase sequence involving a massive cargo plane on the world’s longest runway, a rhapsody of mass destruction elevated by incredible stunt work and driving skills (and probably a whole lot of CGI).

Everything’s in a hurry with FAST AND FURIOUS 6 (even the occasional subtitle hurriedly scoots on and off the screen) and the many fans of this series will find it an adrenaline-pumping thrill ride. Despite wooden performances (with the exception of the always-magnetic Johnson), flat comic repartee, and about 30 more minutes than it needs, F&F6 will make truckloads of money no matter what the critics say. A post-credits sting even shows the villain in the next chapter (hint: a bald, big-name action star new to the series). The direction by Justin Lin (F&F4, 5, and 6) is a jumble. The digitally amplified clatter of crashing cars, guns, tanks, and fireballs never stops, but it’s impossible to know where you are at any given time or why you should care. But to his credit, Lin appears to have a heightened awareness of just how much time people are willing to spend watching a film that is proudly and unashamedly cinematic junk food. At no point is F&F6 dull, and for my money that’s all that matters. Fans of the F&F franchise know what they’re in for and this installment delivers, so park your brain in neutral and enjoy the ride.

3 of 5 Stars


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