Does anyone remember when The Fast and the Furious was this little B-movie from 2001 about street racing in the Valley? Because the series certainly hasn't over the years beginning with the conceptual reboot it received in Fast Five as The Rock appeared as a Federal agent looking to bust the Vin Diesel-powered family of ace drivers. Suddenly the series was a heist caper picture with seriously over the top action scenes culminating with a huge bank safe being dragged through the streets of Rio like a wrecking ball. With the series back firing on all cylinders, it was time to up the stakes and the result is Furious 6 (as it's credited; no relation to Grandmaster Flash's old back-ups), a movie that's big, noisy, dumb and hella fun.
Furry Sex (sp?) kicks off with The Rock and new sidekick Gina Carano (Haywire) investigating a theft of top secret technology in Moscow. (Why a U.S. lawman is there is because he was in Rio in the last movie; in other words, because.) Since the job was done by a international crew of bad guy drivers, Rock decides recruit Diesel and Company with something that was teased in the middle of the end credits of Fast Five: that Michelle Rodriguez's Letty - last seen being killed off on the 4th installment, Fast and Furious - is working with the bad guys. If Diesel et al help take down the kingpin, everyone gets pardons, but all Diesel wants is to return Letty to his family. Hijinks ensue.
While Fast Five was pretty cool in the action scenes, the in-between parts which were meant to serve has plot and stuff were slow and boring. That's been fixed this time with lots of yuks particularly between Ludacris and Tyrese. Everyone in the supporting cast gets some good jibes in and it's funny stuff.
As for the action scenes, they've ramped up the level of craziness to 12 and the realism knob to -12. The laws of physics operate on Looney Tunes rules and human bodies take so much pounding that it's a miracle half the cast doesn't die of internal injuries or that anyone dies at all from falling. I know we don't see these sorts of movies for their realistic depiction of driving - the lengthy disclaimer at the end reminding the audience that what they just watched was unrealistic and dangerous made me chuckle because wouldn't the world be better off if those who need this helpful safety tip removed themselves from the gene pool? - but stuff happens a lot that makes the "Yeah, right!" alarm threaten to go off. (The finale - which I guessed correctly the trailer spoils - must take place on a runway 20 miles long.)
Afterwards, the silliness of the plot holes will hit you - like why have a convoy which can be attacked by car when you could simply fly the target to the location? - but you'll be having too much fun while you're watching. That said, the way they cover the reintroduction of the dead Letty is actually pretty reasonable. Diesel still acts like a narcoleptic side of beef, but that's still better than Paul Walker can muster. The Rock always tickles me with how he knows exactly what sort of movie he's in and delivers a perfectly-calibrated performance. It's good to have M.Rod back playing tough chicks after a couple years off doing European art house films and the fights (yes, plural) between her and Carano are good if only it's a change to see kickass chicks who aren't skinny twigs (think: Zoe Saldana in Columbiana or Angelina Jolie in Salt) who actually look like they can deliver or take a punch without snapping a limb.
A final note: Just as a plot point of Furious 6 (i.e Letty's alive?) was teased at the end Fast Five, there's a tease for the next flick at the end here and based on the reaction of the crowd they could have gotten the budget for Fastious 7 (I'm calling dibs on that title!) from pre-sales as people filed out. It also retcons an event of Tokyo Drift and pins down for once and all where the 3rd movie in the series fits chronologically in the Fast and Furious world: sixth in line.
Score: 8.5/10. Catch a matinee.