Directed by Justin Lin
Written by Chris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson
Starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker and more.
Long spinning in a world of its own, the “Fast and the Furious” series has finally lost its mind.
The movies first became popular by combining fast cars with wholeheartedly-embraced melodrama, creating a weird little world where people were expected to take Vin Diesel seriously. The results were both incredibly cheesy and oddly endearing, a delicate balance that turned the series into the Velveeta nachos of the movie world.
The latest installment, called “Fast & Furious 6” because even the creators have stopped pretending these are independent movies, has lost both its balance and any grip on coherent storytelling. The cheesiness has finally won, ramping up the levels of absurdity so high that any pretense at logic or reality has fled in terror. The results are absolutely hilarious at times, but rarely in the moments when the movie is actually trying to be funny.
The plot, such as it is, involves fast cars, bringing back a long-dead character, and the introduction of the most improbable unit of elite soldiers ever invented. Nearly everyone from the last movie is back, many of which you’ll have no hope of recognizing unless you’ve seen at least two of the last five movies. Director Justin Lin has a habit of assuming everyone has, regularly incorporating plot points from previous movies without bothering to re-explain their significance at all. Audience members not familiar with the series are completely lost.
Not that the movie is particularly coherent even with previous knowledge. The emotional drive of “Fast & Furious 6” is based entirely on an assumption that falls apart if you’ve watched the previous movies, making many of the big “team” moments feel hollow and annoying.
Other scenes that are meant to be highly emotional go so over the top that you can’t help but burst out laughing. The funniest moment in the entire movie, and possibly the funniest moment in any major film this entire year, is meant to be the climactic emotional scene in the movie’s central romance. I’m sure the dialogue was supposed to be very romantic and tender, but the laughter from the entire audience drowned it out.
The movie is sometimes intentionally funny as well, with Ludacris’ wonderfully dry delivery making the best one-liners sparkle. Dwayne Johnson (a.k.a. The Rock) is occasionally funny as well, though most of the time his job is to stand there looking muscular. The fact that he manages to do so with more charm than Vin Diesel, the movie’s supposed star, is only one of the many reasons the movie sputters and dies.
A major flaw in the series has always been its insistence on pretending that Diesel can act, and “Fast & Furious 6” has several pointless shots where the camera lingers lovingly on the actor’s “serious” face. Paul Walker, who has no career now except for these movies, is also given a major emotional arc that’s completely beyond his acting abilities.
For action fans, the best moment in the entire movie may be in the credits scene, where Lin finally manages to effectively surprise the audience. It’s a nod to movies far better than the one you’ll be watching.