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Driving, a Hard Bargain

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

Universal Pictures

Expectations are naturally low when you enter the sixth part of a franchise, unless you’re a J. K. Rowling fan and you’re watching "Harry Potter," and with "Fast Five" being such a lackluster affair, the expectations here are rock bottom.

To attempt to offer an outline of the plot would not only be pointless, but in a way would do the film a disservice. There is a story of sorts, involving some military bad guys and a MacGuffin (in the form of a world-ending microchip) but it’s so thin and clearly only there to allow the ridiculous action to happen, that it’s barely worth mentioning. All the gang are back — including one that was supposedly dead — and they’re all needed for one last job . . . again.

The script veers from the smart and funny, mostly down to the comic timing of Tyrese Gibson, to bouts of gut-churning pseudo-sincerity from Dwayne Johnson and, particularly, Vin Diesel. In fact at times it is hard to tell if the two leads are genuinely dreadful or intentionally parodying themselves. It’s a fine line, and the jury is out on which side they fall.

However, if you’re going to make it to No. 6 and keep the fans on board (with 7 already in the pipeline) you have to raise the stakes, and this is where "Fast & Furious 6" gets it insanely right.

The action sequences are brash, ludicrous and breathtakingly stupid at times, but they smash many contemporary action movies out of the park when it comes to pace, energy and sheer bravado. There are plenty of beautiful cars to watch, most of which end up as scrap before the paint has dried, cars take on cars, cars take on a tank and even a plane. It’s huge in its ambition in these sequences and doesn’t disappoint.

The franchise has now reached the stage where it has become fashionable to kill central characters in the name of drama, and "6" attempts to tug at the heart strings by shortening the cast list for "7," but fans will no doubt feel that everything is where it should be with the return of Michelle Rodriguez as the now-amnesiac Letty Ortiz.

So the script is patchy, the plot is off the wall, the acting is mediocre in places and awful in others. However, "Fast & Furious 6" is all about the action; and this film is a fuel-injected, nitro-burning, V8 monster that takes no prisoners. So leave your troubles at home; leave your brain at the door, and strap yourself in for a joyride. If you can embrace the madness, then you can have an enormous amount of fun.

As a footnote, the worst kept secret in closing credit stings will have hard-core fans covering themselves in motor oil and dancing in the aisles. The word is that James Wan will be taking over directing duties from Justin Lin for "F7," so let’s hope that he can live up to the promise that the sting offers. Him hunting down the crew like a suited assassin on four wheels? That I do want to see.


Opens on May 17 in Britain and on May 24 in the United States.

Directed by Justin Lin; written by Chris Morgan, based on characters created by Gary Scott Thompson; director of photography, Stephen F. Windon; edited by Christian Wagner and Kelly Matsumoto; music by Lucas Vidal; production design by Jan Roelfs; costumes by Sanja Milkovic Hays; produced by Neil H. Moritz, Clayton Townsend and Vin Diesel; released by Universal Pictures. Running time: 2 hours 8 minutes. This film is rated 12A by B.B.F.C. and PG-13 by M.P.A.A.

WITH: Vin Diesel (Dominic Toretto), Paul Walker (Brian O’Conner), Dwayne Johnson (Luke Hobbs), Michelle Rodriguez (Letty Ortiz), Jordana Brewster (Mia Toretto), Tyrese Gibson (Roman Pearce), Chris Bridges, a k a Ludacris (Tej Parker), Sung Kang (Han Lue), Luke Evans (Owen Shaw), Gina Carano (Riley), John Ortiz (Braga), Gal Gadot (Gisele Harabo) and Elsa Pataky (Elena Neves).


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