The Fast & Furious films have to be one of the more interesting franchise stories. Blowing out the gate with the mediocre original before going off the boil with two pretty terrible sequels, it was given the breath of life by director Justin Lin and with the best instalment of the lot Fast & Furious 5. It became a global money-spinner, and thus with the melodrama turned up, the overly macho series rolls coolly into its London-based sixth episode, Fast & Furious 6.
Following the success of their Rio heist, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew are wealthy but unable to return to their homes because of their criminal records. Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) tracks down Toretto and offers his crew a deal, a full pardon if they help him bring to justice the former leader of a dangerous mercenary organisation, the skilled and deadly former-SAS military officer Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) and his second-in-command, Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez).
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson brings his trademark charisma and ass-kickery providing a straight-laced character prone to moments of sudden violence. Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, the two stalwarts prove the least interesting characters. Diesel’s Toretto has developed into a bizarre mantra-delivering philosopher, while, with the exception of once very surprising moment of real emotion toward the end, Paul Walker is as emotive and believable as a breeze block.
The longevity relies on more and more characters being added each time. Fast 6 introduces Hobbs second in command, the entertaining and suitable macho Gina Carano who builds on her action star-maker turn in Haywire by tearing up the action scenes with Michelle Rodriguez, with both proving tougher than most of the men. The returning cast each get a moment to shine and while their characters are almost caricatures they’re inserted and removed with devilish glee by Lin and Luke Evans’ Shaw is a wonderfully played villain who drives the majority of the action.
There is a tendency for the plot to drift between the obscenely ridiculous action scenes and the tedious emotional scenes too often and just when the audience needs a cheeky Roman one-liner we’re treated instead to extended scenes between Toretto and Letty. From an internal narrative point of view it makes sense to give the crew a reason to join in the fight against Shaw, but with so little thought given to so many other areas, it’s a real drag to the pacing.
Fast 6 was never going to be successful based on its emotional content; it lives and dies on its action and its cars. In this regard it’s hugely rewarding. As the action set-pieces build toward their inevitable crescendos, Justin Lin pulls no punches and delivers the most over-the-top finale time and time again. Characters fly through the air with the careless ease of a superhero and the constant references to The Rock as different members of The Avengers is as apt as it is funny. The body blows keep coming and Lin cranks everything up to eleven in what will prove to be his last outing as director and he makes sure he goes out with a bang.
Fast 6 proves far camper than its immediate predecessor, but keeps the enormous and growing fan base happy.