***THIS REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED HERE FOR THE HOLLYWOOD NEWS ON MAY 15TH, 2013***
Director: Justin Lin.
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Sung Kang, Tyrese Gibson, Luke Evans, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Gal Gadot, Gina Carano, Jordana Brewster, Elsa Pataky.
Running Time: 130 minutes.
Synopsis: Former soldier Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) and his team are being hunted by Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) for their vehicular warfare crimes. Knowing the only way to outwit them is by playing them at their own game, Hobbs enlists Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and crew to outmatch them in London, while a personal connection makes things harder for Dom.
Dubstep. Short skirts. Dodgy one-liners. It’s safe to say that FAST & FURIOUS 6 knows what its audience expects. Opening with a self-gratifying montage that’s as laughable as it is helpful, the franchise’s confidence is as loud as its revving engines. Reacquainted with bromantic bezzies Dom and Brian racing through the Spanish mountains to the birth of a new addition to the Swiss Family Petroleum, the modern-day A-TEAM are spread over the globe after their mega lucrative Rio heist. Competition may be temporarily out of the water, but the promise of full pardons from sometimes friend, sometimes foe Luke Hobbs is too good for the crew to resist.
FURIOUS 6 doesn’t offer FAST 5’s bank vault motorway assault, but Shaw’s inhumane tank carnage gets pretty close. Marketing campaigns may have dampened their effect, but the faultless set pieces raise the fist pumping stakes once again, making it impossible to tear your eyes from the screen. British cinema’s recent habit of trying to make London look sexy is also thrown out the window, with scummy backstreets used just as frequently as slick aerial shots. Sure, the cars do the talking, but a subtle whistle-stop tour of the city cleverly utilises black cabs, red letterboxes and buses within the action.
Steering his very own Batmobile prototype, villain of the piece Owen Shaw definitely has the tools, but icy stares and chiseled cheekbones can’t keep Luke Evans from being disappointingly forgettable. Similarly serving as little more than an excuse for a fistfight, perennial mumbler Gina Carano also proves that, though the bulked out cast bring the muscle, the relentless fight scenes’ general unoriginality will have you twiddling your thumbs until the next vehicle-based set piece.
The film’s dull downtime is interspersed with brilliant patches of lightness from Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges), mainly at the expense of Hobbs and his size. Their zingy one-liners are a welcome distraction from Chris Morgan’s painfully cheesy dialogue, but the film very much plays up to audience expectation. Though this tactic succeeds for the most part, the racers-cum-outlaws deserve an injection of occasional intelligence and believability after five films.
Dodgy product placement, dodgy cameos (we’re looking at you, Rita Ora) and dodgy explanations for Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) teaming up with Shaw may distract, but they don’t ruin the fun. A post credit sequence indulges those who treat TOKYO DRIFT as an anomaly and is a ballsy but undeniably effective way to bring the franchise full circle. With its formula teetering towards tired, new director James Wan has one hell of a task on his hands.