Film review: ‘Fast & Furious 6′ has a tank. Need we say more?

Vin Diesel tries his darndest to drive a car in "Fast & Furious 6." Credit: Universal Pictures
Vin Diesel tries his darndest to drive a car in “Fast & Furious 6.”
Credit: Universal Pictures

‘Fast & Furious 6′
Director: Justin Lin
Stars: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker
Rating: PG-13
3 (out of 5) Globes

Where some sequels (“The Hangover Part II”) repeat the original, and others (“The Hangover Part III”) try something new, the “Fast and Furious” films are that other kind of franchise beast: a constantly reinventing shape-shifter. It can’t even decide on a consistent title template. Don’t confuse “Fast & Furious,” the fourth entry, with “The Fast and the Furious,” the first. (Only the “Rambo” films are more confusing.) Over the six films, key actors have disappeared as their careers soared, only to return once their careers waned. The rest are expendable.

But the backbone is always the same. Supersized throwbacks to Roger Corman drive-in programmers from the ‘60s, they offer light melodrama meant to do no more than connect the sporadic absurdly OTT set pieces. The series apex called simply “Fast Five” featured cars somehow powerful enough to drag a bank vault across a bridge. “Fast & Furious 6” — only called “Furious 6” on-screen — isn’t as transcendently ridiculous. But it does have a tank.

If you must know, this one finds Vin Diesel and Paul Walker’s speed demons/world-class thieves working out a deal with fed Dwayne Johnson — there chiefly to make Diesel look like DJ Qualls — to clear their tarnished names. There’s a second group of speed demons/world-class thieves on the prowl, this one meaner than the Diesel-Walker crew. Their fearless leader (Luke Evans) spouts Nazi-like jargon about precision and not being afraid to cut off (or gorily gouge) a weak link. Evans’ crew also includes Diesel’s ex Michelle Rodriguez, presumed to have been murdered in No. 4. But she’s back anyway, and with amnesia, as if this series didn’t already play like a ‘roided-up adrenaline junkie soap opera.

There’s a couple lines about Diesel and Walker getting older and needing to settle down, though their contracts will say otherwise. Like “Fast Five,” this one’s more of an ensemble piece anyway, with plenty of comic relief from Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson, and a delightful knock-down, drag-out girlfight between Rodriguez and special guest star Gina Carano, whose MMA stylings (previously seen in “Haywire”) could still use more screentime.

Director Justin Lin has been the franchise-runner since the third, “Tokyo Drift.” Some sporadic overplotting suggests he’s ready to move on. (Which he is; “Fast & Furious 7” will be handled by the guy who made “Saw,” unaccountably.) But Lin frequently remembers to pummel us with awesome nonsense, none more awesomely nonsensical than a climax set on a runway evidently longer than some countries.


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