The target audience for Fast and Furious 6 won’t care as much about the characters with two arms and two legs as it will about the characters with four wheels.
That’s because the latest installment in the ongoing series of cinematic gearhead pornography, like its predecessors, is all about the cars. With a wide array of sports cars, muscle cars and classic cars — both foreign and domestic — aficionados will find plenty to distract them from the plot, which is exactly the point.
The slick, big-budget flick is gleefully preposterous, with a storyline that functions merely as a bridge between the numerous high-octane car chases, car crashes, shootouts and explosions.
It begins with Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), a special agent trying to bring down a criminal mastermind (Luke Evans) with a penchant for fast cars. Needing someone to match his driving skills, Hobbs recruits Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian (Paul Walker), and their crew of slick globetrotting criminals that includes Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) and Han (Sung Kang).
Their payment is a pardon for past crimes, but the stakes are raised for Dom when he realizes the girlfriend (Michelle Rodriguez) that he presumed was dead is alive and working for the enemy.
Director Justin Lin, who has directed the last four films in the franchise, knows how to stage some taut and stylish action sequences, including a nighttime chase through crowded London streets, and another amid the mountains of Spain. The stunt work also deserves kudos.
The script is convoluted and repetitive, with a blandly menacing villain, but the main problem with the Fast and Furious movies at this point is the lack of freshness in the characters and concept. The whole enterprise is spinning its wheels.
The buffed-up ensemble cast feels like a reunion of actors who had popped up at various points in the first five movies. Trying to make sense of the chronology within the series is useless at this stage, but it’s amusing to note that the characters who started out as grassroots street racers now have evolved into a squad of indestructible James Bond wannabes. About the only constant has been Diesel’s lack of voice inflection or facial expression.
Fans will find a special surprise during the closing credits. For the rest of us, the pace is fast, yet the script will leave all but the least discerning viewers furious.
Rated PG-13, 130 minutes.