The latest addition to the Fast & Furious franchise is just like the tie rods on a ‘72 Buick … no, not really. I don’t pretend to know or care anything about cars unless they have a flux capacitor attached and I couldn’t tell a ‘69 Dodge Charger from a Ford Escort, so I come at the Fast & Furious 6 with an admitted disadvantage. I still had fun watching this film though, but probably not for the same reasons as most of its hardcore fans.

When the Fast & Furious director, Justin Lin, and writer, Chris Morgan, realized they were limiting their audience to the underground racing and car aficionado demographic, they amped up the action and stunts to a James Bond level with the fifth franchise installment, Fast Five, thus broadening the appeal of their films to wider audience of action addicts. Fast & Furious 6 now follows that formula with some of the craziest stunt work you’re likely to see.

The synopsis of this film? Oh … you mean the ‘story’ that fills in the gaps between the elaborate action sequences that were obviously conceived independently and prior to any kind of logical narrative. Well, it’s got something to do with some sort of doomsday device that a band of maniac mechanics, led by the ominous villain, Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), are trying to steal from the military. Of course, the only people who can possibly stop the bad guys are Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) legendary gang of street racers.

Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) recruits Dom’s team, which includes former cop Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), Han (Sung Kang), the Asian drift-driver, the street-savvy Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and computer genius Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), to help him and his sexy new partner, Riley (Gina Carano), to apprehend Shaw before he destroys the world.

I love the way in which the film’s creators have upped the antagonistic scale to apocalyptic proportions and though I don’t think they intended the campy charge I got out of this comic-book styled concept, it was still fun seeing these street thugs save civilization as we know it – even though they’re only doing it for selfish reasons.

Also in the mix of convoluted plotlines is the return of Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), who was killed in the fourth Fast & Furious film (thanks to my friends Rusty & Nita for setting me straight on that) but is now back, but with amnesia and working for Shaw’s team of evildoers. Even though Dominic now has another lady, he still has a thing for Letty, and his current squeeze is cool with him going after her. Now we’re talking some serious furious fantasy. This scenario sounds like something out of The Bold & the Beautiful soap opera rather than The Fast & Furious.

Will Hobbs and Dom’s gang capture Shaw and save the planet? Will Letty regain her memory in time to help? Will there be any cause for macho posturing and ultra-corny tough-guy lines? Only 130 minutes and an untold number of innocent bystanders mowed over by maniacal car (and tank) drivers will tell.

Not only does Fast & Furious 6 raise the bar for outlandish car stunts and fight sequences, it also sets a new standard for dumb dialogue and ridiculousness. But somehow, the film still manages to make its many weak points seem endearing in a bad cult-movie kind of way. In the screening I attended the audience vocally loved the silliness of it all; a reaction that was both scary and exhilarating.

The big stars of Fast & Furious 6, Diesel and Johnson, both have huge followings, and I can understand it with ‘The Rock,’ who has some decent acting chops (though not present in this film), a big screen presence, and he had a huge fanbase prior to his movie career; but I don’t get the appeal of Diesel. He reminds me of a cross between Mr. Magoo and Rocky Balboa, but with less acting ability, and Michelle Rodriguez is like his slightly more attractive female counter-part.

If you are already a Fast & Furious fan, then nothing I say here is going to sway you from seeing this film, but if you’re not a fan, even though this is a pretty bad movie interspersed with first-rate action sequences, it’s still worth a look for some fun mindless thrills and unintentional comedy. Grade: 6/10

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