There is something of an internal conflict happening after seeing Fast & Furious 6. Brain and heart are having a punch-up of Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee proportions. Brain can’t quite fathom how heart can possibly think the sixth instalment of the Fast & Furious franchise is such fist-pumpingly good fun when it’s one of the most nonsensical blockbusters of recent times containing some of the most risible dialogue this side of Anakin Skywalker’s creepy speech about sand.
The plot, such as it is, revolves around the uneasy alliance between adversaries Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Agent Hobbs (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson). Hobbs needs Toretto to help him find sneery bad guy Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), promising immunity and a pardon for him and his team. Further impetus to help Hobbs comes in the form of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), previously dead and buried but now actually alive and kicking and working with Shaw. Toretto wants the love of his life back you see, even though he’s shacked up with copper Elena (Elsa Pataky).
There is much to enjoy in this latest piece of celluloid nonsense. And it is nonsense. Fast & Furious 6 is by no means a “good film.” But it is a great experience. Tune in to your inner American and get loud. Forget that polite British reserve where we actually keep our mouths shut and watch the film with respect. Whoop. Holler. Cheer. Shout “oooh burn” and such platitudes of appreciation at the screen. This will enhance your viewing experience tenfold.
The action is predictably grandiose in scale. There’s a fantastically bonkers scene on a Spanish motorway involving a tank, our heroes in their souped-up muscle cars and a spectacularly ludicrous airborne rescue. The gang spend a good deal of the film in London – the sheer lunacy of a high speed race in the centre of London is laughable to any locals – Michelle Rodriguez (a highly welcome return from the actress) goes toe to toe with Gina Carano’s tough nut cop in a shabbily unnamed underground station and the film has possibly the single greatest headbutt in cinema history.
Performances are as one would expect from the franchise. All deserve awards for managing to deliver their lines with a straight face. The bromance this time around is definitely between Johnson and Diesel, so much so at one point they looked sure to make out passionately in a bizarre thick-necked, bald man snog-a-thon. One of the reasons Fast & Furious 5 was so successful was due to the antagonism between the two and the change in relationship does rob us of this, what with Evans’ villain being so blandly professional and unrelentingly dull. It’s not Evans fault, he simply has naught to work with. Tyrese Gibson and rapper Ludacris are there to provide comic relief, a running joke about baby oil aimed at the enormously bulky Johnson amuses greatly, making the pair highly appealing. Poor Paul Walker is essentially side-lined and gets saddled with a pointless sojourn to a prison cell to extract info from an old adversary. It’s a sequence that we could’ve done without, stretching the already too long running time further.
It’s difficult to truly critique a film that so eschews any coherent narrative in favour of utterly mental set-pieces that ignore the laws of gravity and logic. Either you switch your brain in neutral and lap up the absurdity of it all or you knit your brow and shake your fist at the cinematic mess on screen. It’s easier if you don’t fight, just give in, enjoy the carnage and marvel at the pre-credits sequence for Fast & Furious 7. It had us on our knees with joyous anticipation.