Fast & Furious 6 Review: Brilliantly Bonkers And Ridiculously Entertaining

Fast & Furious 6

rating: 3.5

In 2011, Fast Five came out of nowhere, hot off the heels of what was indisputably the worst entry into the Fast and Furious franchise - the overly self-serious Fast and Furious - and fascinated audiences and critics alike. Director Justin Lin, who previously helmed the third and fourth installments, seemed to finally discover a tone in part five that was conducive to momentous box office success; in jettisoning the restrictive petrol-head shtick and opting for a broader heist film mode, combined with blokish banter as well as cartoonish physics, the franchise had well and truly become a blockbuster tentpole for the ages. Lin returns for what will presumably be his final run in the franchise - his reluctance to rush a seventh film into production caused Universal to ill-advisedly replace him with James Wan for the next one - in Fast & Furious 6, which begins exactly where Fast Five left off. Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker) and the rest of the gang have made it rich, though cannot return to the U.S. because of their criminal records. However, with DSS Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) aware that Dom's former flame Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is in fact alive - revealed in a stinger at the end of the last film - he offers Dom and his gang clean records if they help him bring Letty in and take down her boss, a dangerous former British special forces officer named Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Keeping consistent with the trend set by the previous films, Fast and Furious 6 is no great shakes in the story department, but that is rarely, if ever, the attraction of these pictures. Making sense of the narrative is something the majority of audiences will have long given up with by now - specifically the slippery timeline-skirting antics of the recent entries - and true to form, it's mostly an exercise in futility this time around. We briefly learn that Shaw is after a technological trinket that will do...something, but at the end of the day, the villain's end-game takes a backseat to the hilarious banter between these characters we now know so well, and of course, the Wacky Races-inspired action sequences. Fast & Furious 6 Granted, things take a little while to get going; an early scene set in Moscow - one which unconvincingly uses London's Lambeth Bridge as a double - has Hobbes and new partner Riley (Gina Carano) surveying the damage of Shaw's latest heist, so why not just show us the heist? Fast Five opened with a thrilling and unforgettable chase sequence that this film is sorely deprived of; it's not until we hop to London at around the half-hour mark that things begin to get truly interesting. In fact, audiences will probably be surprised to learn that roughly half the movie takes place in Blighty, beginning with an exemplary set-piece which shows off Shaw's arsenal of modified cars - equipped with ramps which flip cop cars in the air like toys - and continuing with a thrilling series of fisticuffs throughout the London Underground. From here, the globe-trotting continues for the main events of the picture, a desperate race to impede a tank driven by Shaw - which causes a shockingly flippant number of civilian deaths - followed by an exhilarating dash to prevent a plane from taking off that just might be the most ambitious set-piece in the entirety of the franchise. It's certainly the most ridiculous, and perhaps the most enjoyable (though the finale of Fast Five would be a close second). While Lin might struggle to sustain the energy as consistently as he did last time - especially with the trio of action sequences appended together for Fast Five's finale - it's difficult to feel short-changed when the film goes out on such an exhilarating, crowd-pleasing high note of delirious mayhem. Fast & Furious 6 It's all the more credit to Lin, whose workmanlike treatment of the material makes for some of the most hair-raising vehicular carnage you're ever likely to see. Much like the previous film, Lin tends to steer clear of abusing his visual effects budget, instead saving it for the physically improbable money shots that really need the help. When we're watching Shaw catapult police cars into the air and then into other cars, it's more exciting precisely because it's real most of the time - Lin makes us feel the impact. Chris Morgan's script, while in need of perhaps a little more action and a little less talking here and there, knows the characters well, and indulges the audience's likewise familiarity; keep an eye out for the hilarious banter between Tyrese and Ludacris in particular, and a rib-tickling WWE reference from the mouth of Johnson. Audiences might occasionally find themselves unsure, however, whether Morgan is intentionally layering the cheese on thick; the rote dialogues and only spuriously deliberate innuendos will no doubt raise many a titter in cinemas throughout the land, though given the absurd nature of the action, it seems likely that these exchanges are meant to be tongue-in-cheek (even if delivered with a solemn seriousness by Diesel especially). Though it's still innately goofy - yet often pleasantly so - and about as subtle as a dump-truck of bricks through a window, those who were turned around by the last installment will find themselves similarly at home this time around; this is simply more of the same, and generally in the best way possible. Also, as a tip, make sure you don't leave the cinema too early; a shocking closing stinger sequence, which teases an exciting new prospect for Fast & Furious 7, should pique the interest of just about any action movie fan out there. A loud, wonderfully bone-headed lug of a thrill-ride, this just might be the only instance in cinema franchise history where the heavy implication of a sixth sequel actually seems appealing. Fast & Furious 6Fast & Furious 6 is in UK cinemas this Friday, and out in the US May 24th.
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Frequently sleep-deprived film addict and video game obsessive who spends more time than is healthy in darkened London screening rooms. Follow his twitter on @ShaunMunroFilm or e-mail him at shaneo632 [at]