Who would have thought that Vin Diesel’s small cameo appearance in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift would have led to three more sequels, the latest being this monster of a film, Fast & Furious 6. It’s six times as fast, six times as furious… and six times as silly. That’s not an exaggeration either; you won’t find a more outrageous, OTT actioner this year, probably this decade. Well, until the next instalment anyway because, despite coming full circle and closing Tokyo Drift’s time loop, there’s still no end in sight for this runaway franchise.
Dominic Torretto (Diesel) and Brain O’Connor (Paul Walker) are basking in extradition safety on the Canary Islands after their Rio heist, until an appearance by DSS agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) unsettles them with the startling revelation that their friend and Torretto’s ex, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), presumed dead (in Fast & Furious – the fourth entry), has been spotted working for an international criminal gang of drivers.
Led by former SAS Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), the gang have been working around Europe stealing parts to assemble some super ray gun (or something like that) and just need a microchip worth billions to complete it. Hobbs has offered Toretto, O’Connor and the rest of his crew – Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Chris Bridges), Han (Sung Kang) and Gisele (Gal Gadot) – full pardons if they help him catch them, beginning their takedown in London.
Although the plot is secondary to the action, the writers must have thought they were being clever by linking a number of events from the previous films, some tenuously (Letty’s survival) to some opportunistic (Tokyo Drift). Director Justin Lin has grown adept at handling the frenetic thrills, but he still has no clue how to manage a basic face-to-face conversation. The dialogue contributes to these excruciatingly painful and comical scenes, which would be rightly greeted with hoots of derision.
As much as the focus is on the cars and its stars, everything is always one step too much; the flipping vehicles are at first spectacular then boring, Roman’s tongue-in-cheek jokes are refreshing then annoying, Han’s romance with Gisele turns from sweet to vomit-inducing (settling down in Tokyo repeated ad nauseam). Having sly digs at us Brits is also worth a chuckle but portraying our law enforcement as inept and corrupt, on top of the scene with the upper-class toff, is cringing as it is tiresome, even for a mindless blockbuster.
Then there are the absolute, off-the-scale set-pieces. If the scene with a tank and a mid-air catch doesn’t astonish you with how they could get away with such absurdity, that is nothing compared to the ridiculousness factor with the cargo aircraft ending. Watching Diesel walking through the fireball wreckage in its aftermath is reminiscent of the T-1000.
In spite of all this, there’s something exhilarating about car chases through a city centre, and London’s streets have never looked so… Hollywood. Regardless of Lin’s mixed directing, fair play to him for shooting such slick moments, as well as accommodating the huge cast, bar poor Jordana Brewster who only tops and tails the film.
And there are also a couple of surprisingly cool additions; mixed-martial expert Gina Carano (relegated from leading lady in Haywire to Johnson’s sidekick here) and The Raid’s Joe Taslim, arguably having the best fight scene against Han and Roman that matches Diesel and Johnson’s epic dust-up in Fast Five.
So turn off the engine to your brain, crank up the expectation levels of what the human body can do, and kick back for this unrelenting juggernaut. It’s big, it’s dumb, it’s entertaining. Over two hours of loud, mind-numbing, techno-pumping action may be too much for some, but Fast & Furious 6 is adrenalin-fuelled fun that will leave you feeling just a little bit dirty for enjoying such high-energy preposterousness.