A friend once noted that the best metric for judging a movie like “Fast and Furious 6” is to note the extent to which it, upon completion, prompts you to ignore posted speed limits and drive home like the proverbial Hades-departing bat.
By that standard, “Furious 6,” the, um, sixth film in the “Fast and Furious” franchise, does alright. One does find oneself testing the limits of one’s sensible Honda Civic. But one can’t help thinking, “Man, I wish I had a tank.” Yes, there is a tank in this one.
We catch up with our crew some time after “Fast 5,” the blockbuster fifth movie that introduced Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson (whose neck folds right under the back of his head should really get their own credit) as U.S. Diplomatic Security Service special agent Luke Hobbs.
Having made off with millions at the end of “Fast 5” the crew, led by Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel, still better at being Vin Diesel than anyone) has scatted to various countries without extradition to the U.S. When Hobbs shows Toretto evidence that his late girlfriend Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) is alive and well, Toretto gets the band back together for one more job, this time against a gang of thieves led by the mysterious criminal simply called Shaw (Luke Evans).
Everyone is here: whitebread former federal agent-turned-outlaw Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), Brian’s old pal Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), computer guy Tej Parker (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), Japanese street racer Han Lue (Sung Kang), and the hilariously stunning former Mossad agent turned outlaw Gisele (Gal Godot). Gina Carano (“Haywire”) joins the fun as Hobbs’ high-octane colleague Riley, while Jordana Brewster is barely around as Brian’s wife/Dom’s sister.
While the movie’s frame is roughly that of “Fast 5,” the energy is more diffuse, the plotting more perfunctory. Story beats are simply chatting between action sequences, barely a step up from the narrative bits between sex scenes in a porn movie. The movies’ timeline is starting to reach “Planet of the Apes”-levels of confusing. (Just keep in mind that movies four, five and six take place before movie three, “Tokyo Drift,” and you should be OK.)
Directed by longtime franchise director Justin Lin from a script full of really awkward exposition by Chris Morgan, “Furious 6” is not shy about literally saying what audiences will be thinking.
In case anyone hasn’t noticed that the international terrorism plot is an awful long way from the drag-racing electronics thieves of the original (and still wildly entertaining) 2001 “The Fast and the Furious,” someone mentions 007. And just as soon as you notice something funny about Shaw’s crew, Taj points out that everyone has an opposite member (big guy, Asian guy, etc).
In fact, there’s nothing shy about “Furious 6,” which is just part of the reason the franchise has done so well. From the multi-ethnic cast to the terrific stunts, many done with far less CGI than you might think (the filmmakers swear it), the movie is as blatant an entertainment as you are going to find. There is no larger theme here, except some vague stuff about family.
These are movies about driving cars really fast and destroying them. And, yes, the thing with the tank is awesome.
Rating: PG-13. Running time: 130 min. Theaters: Alamo Lake Creek, Alamo Slaughter, AMC Barton Creek, Cinemark Cedar Park, Cinemark Round Rock, Cinemark Stone Hill, City Lights, Flix Brewhouse, Gateway, Highland, Hill Country Galleria, Lakeline, Metropolitan, Southpark Meadows, Starplex, Tinseltown Pflugerville,Westgate.