The most impressive thing about the sixth entry into this noisy franchise is that it's both more preposterous and more self-important than ever before. Which is no mean feat. The cast and crew clearly went for something bigger and more explosive, but by removing their tongues from their cheeks they leave us laughing at them rather than with them. Even so, some of the crazed action scenes are breathtaking.
The story picks up right where the last one ended: Dominic and Brian (Diesel and Walker) have taken the fortune they grabbed in Rio and started an idyllic life in the Canary Islands. Brian and Dom's sister Mia (Brewster) have even produced an adorable baby. Then US Agent Hobbs (Johnson) appears asking for their help in capturing the villainous Shaw (Evans), who is collecting military technological gadgets for some nefarious purpose. And they agree to go along because Dom's presumed-dead girlfriend Letty (Rodriguez) is working with him. So they reassemble the team (Pataky, Gibson, Bridges, Kang, Gadot and Carano) and get started in London.
Yes, this chapter takes place in Europe, which gives the filmmakers new landmarks to race past in their elaborately orchestrated chase sequences, throwing cars like toys at every plate-glass window in sight. The first night-time set-piece in London is fairly incoherent (and nonsensical), but things get better from there, with a whizzy bit of competitive driving for Dom and Letty and a few other showdowns before the action moves to Spain for a couple of massive, gob-smacking action sequences that would boggle the mind if we thought for a second that they were even marginally possible.
The best thing about this film is the character interaction, even with actors who are this limited. Letty's amnesia adds a soapy twist to the saga that forces Dom to repeatedly try to remind her why she loves him. And Brian's fatherhood lets Walker do some brow-furrowing. Otherwise, Gibson and Bridges are left with the snappy comic relief, while Carano, Gadot and Pataky merely get to look feisty and hot. But all of them need to relax and perhaps offer a wink to the camera now and then. Even Johnson is unusually serious this time, with only a few outbursts of manly banter. So since this clearly sets everything up for Part 7, let's hope they recapture that balancing act that has made this one of the most improbably successful franchises of the century.
Run time: 130 mins
In Theaters: Friday 24th May 2013
Box Office USA: $238.7M
Box Office Worldwide: $788.7M
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Etalon film, Original Film, One Race Productions
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Fresh: 125 Rotten: 58
IMDB: 7.2 / 10
Director: Justin Lin
Screenwriter: Chris Morgan
Starring: Paul Walker as Brian O'Conner, Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto, Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs, Jordana Brewster as Mia, Luke Evans as Owen Shaw, Michelle Rodriguez as Letty, Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce, Gal Gadot as Gisele Harabo, Sung Kang as Han Lue, Ludacris as Tej Parker, Kim Kold as Klaus, Thure Lindhardt as Firuz, Elsa Pataky as Elena, Johannes Taslim as Jah, Shea Whigham as Stasiak, John Ortiz as Braga, Gina Carano as Riley, Clara Paget as Vegh
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