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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Fast & Furious 6 Movie Review

I liked "Fast Five". It was my very late introduction to the "Fast & Furious" franchise and in spite of the crazy testosterone and muscle cars gone mad, it was a rollicking good time. Given that "Fast & Furious 6" is pretty much a "Fast Five" reunion - with Justin Lin still at the helm, another screenplay by Chris Morgan and, of course, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker reprising roles they've played time and again (with Dwayne Johnson even making his return) - my expectations were understandably high. Oh how wrong I was.

After the triumphant heist of "Fast Five", Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew are living large and retired - or at least as "retired" as criminals who love fast cars can get. Are they still on the lam? Sure. But they're carefully deposited in countries that will not extradite or are armed to the hilt... just in case. Enter Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Toretto's erstwhile nemesis, who is having a really hard time catching big time criminal Ian Shaw (Jason Statham) and his crew, who - hey! - are also into really fast cars. Hobbs approaches Toretto with a picture of his long lost Letty (who "died" in an earlier movie), now alive and - what! - now amnesiac and somehow tangled up with Shaw. Instantly invested, Toretto does what anyone in his position would do. He gets the whole family back together to do some ass kicking.

Shaw's gang is literally described in the movie as Toretto's posse's "evil twins", which is good. It's so obvious, it would be awkward if it weren't acknowledged. There's the ridiculous muscly guy, the asian guy, the two token women, etc etc. It's like they weren't even trying. The bad guys are based in London, so Toretto's team heads out and sets up shop there. London is a beautiful city in the day (when it's not raining), but there isn't enough neon or towering skyscrapers to make it interesting at night - which is when most of the movie takes place. The sunny Rio of "Fast Five" was much more enticing.

What follows is a series of loud, well-edited action sequences strung together with generic action movie dialog. The plot quickly becomes incomprehensible and hard to follow, but who cares? There are cars being flipped over and tanks driving over people and gravity defying leaps over yawning chasms that somehow do not end in death. The best is at the end when a C130 gets involved in a chase that stretches down about 25 miles of runway (I did a rough calculation).

It's true that the filmmakers know their audience. With a PG-13 rating, they're targeting boys with this one. It's unfortunate that while the last movie had a tidy little story to hang all of the excitement on, this one only pays lip service to plot. There's a lot of great chemistry with the cast, who do the best they can with what they have, so the laziness is just disappointing. It could have been a lot better. Maybe the inevitable "Fast & Furious 7" (shamelessly set up in the closing sequence) will be better, but number six is definitely a miss.

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