Film review: Fast & Furious 6

Fast & Furious 6

(M) **

Director: Justin Lin.

Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Sung Kang, Chris Bridges, Luke Evans, Gina Carano, Jordana Brewster.

IF someone told you in 2001 that The Fast & The Furious was going to turn into a six-film franchise worth more than $2 billion, you probably would have laughed in their face and told them to lay off the weed.

The first film was a surprisingly sturdy undercover cop actioner fuelled by some exhilarating street racing and car chasing sequences, but it didn't appear to have the gas to go the distance of a long-running series.

Much to the surprise of most, here we are, 12 years and five films later, and the Fast & Furious series shows no signs of hitting the brakes.

Since recalibrating the series with Fast 5, steering away from its street-racing origins and driving in the direction of international crime, the franchise looked to be in supreme condition.

Unfortunately, the laws of escalating returns of have caught up with F&F, much like it did with Pierce Brosnan's 007 stint. The need to go bigger and better is this film's undoing - the insanity of the underground car races that appeared in #4, which became the admittedly enjoyable vault-dragging scenario of #5, has begat the truly mental showdown that ends this shark-jumping entry into the series.

Following on from the successful Brazilian heist of Fast 5, Dom (Diesel), Brian (Walker) and the rest of their fast-driving crime gang are living large and enjoying the good life.

But US agent Hobbs (Johnson) shows up on Dom's doorstep, asking for help in stopping a new team of lead-footed criminals. Hobbs also has some tantalising news: that his old flame Letty (Rodriguez), who was so unceremoniously blown up in film four, may still be alive and working for the new bad guys.

While the set-up of Fast & Furious 6 shows promise, particularly with its mirror-image crime gangs, the film proceeds to get increasingly baffling and ridiculous, eventually escalating into a full-blown tidal wave of stupidity.

The flagrant disregard for how the law, logic, and even reality work is at the centre of so much of the movie. That a group of criminals, with the help of a gun-toting US agent who's possibly on steroids, can boss around army officers on an army base, ordering the army officers to release the chief villain, despite having spent the whole film trying to catch said mastermind, is an example of the movie's ability to be mind-bogglingly infuriating. 

But that's only one moment out of many in F&F6 that beggars belief. The last part of the film attempts to set a number of records, including the world's longest runway, the world's slowest take-off, and the largest number of impossible things that can happen in the space of 20 minutes.

No one has ever watched the F&F series for its gritty reality or its acknowledgment of how the universe (particularly physics and logic) actually works, and if you can ignore the litany of script errors, #6 is as exhilirating as ever.

Long-time series director Lin knows how to put the audience in the middle of a street race (without the need for 3D thankfully), and it's hard to beat his flair for piecing together a race or a chase. Also, there are at least two action sequences in this film - one involving a tank, and another involving a huge airplane - that are impressive in their ludicrous over-the-top-ness.

For the diehard fans, who may not be as vocal as say the Twi-hards, Trekkies or Potterheads but who must be out there somewhere, there are a few pay-offs, including an intriguing epilogue that points to the already-planned F&F7. 

It's hard to really hate the F&F films. The franchise's unexpected longevity has given it an underdog status that's endearing, the bromance between Walker and Diesel (with added Johnson) is as charming as ever, and the ability to capture the necessary speed and ferocity is unrivalled.

But having been so pleasantly surprised by how great Fast 5 was, Fast & Furious 6 is a massively bonkers disappointment.

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