Andy Bockelman: Pedal and metal rarely separate in 6th ‘Fast & Furious’
May 30, 2013
"Fast & Furious 6," PG-13
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 4 stars
Run time: 130 minutes
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and Dwayne Johnson
Craig — As you head down the road of the summer movie schedule, some sights are slow and thoughtful, while others are exhilarating if not exceptionally bright. If your preferences lean toward the latter, you might want to buckle up as you signal for the exit into the paragon of mindlessness that is "Fast & Furious 6."
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Life is good for Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), even if he's on the run from the U.S. government. After their exploits in Brazil, the auto expert and his crew have stepped out of the criminal world and gone their separate ways to retire in luxury. When special agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) tracks him down for help in his latest investigation, Dom has no interest in assisting the man who wants to see him and his friends behind bars.
Hobbs's real intent is to find Owen Shaw, (Luke Evans) a renegade British soldier who has been hijacking dangerous technology all across the world. Dom's refusal to accompany Hobbs to London for Shaw's latest caper quickly changes when he learns the criminal mastermind has help from the last person he would have expected: his girlfriend Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), whom Dom has long believed to be dead.
With the possibility of reuniting with his lost love, he brings together Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker), Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) and the rest of his old team to stake out and take down Shaw in the pursuit of receiving amnesty from United States. But Shaw's squad of criminal specialists is more than a match for them, proving they'll have to kick it into high gear if they want to walk away from this ordeal.
Diesel's signature role never has been that deep, unlike his basso profondo voice, but here we see arguably his best showing yet as Dom Toretto, driven by his usual blend of pride in being one of the best racers around and acting as a father figure to those he loves. Yet, we also see him tapping the brakes a bit mentally, faced with the possibility that the woman who still holds his heart not only is alive but has gone bad, and that hesitation in how to cope with it could cost him everything.
Walker's ex-federal agent Brian, who's starred in more of these films than anyone, provides an air of caution among his friends, invested in their venture but wary about what might happen to him if he doesn't make it back to see his girlfriend (Jordana Brewster) and son.
Johnson is more easygoing than his time on "Fast Five," willing to bend the rules if it means stopping someone as cold and calculating as Shaw, though not quite as jocular as ever-bickering Gibson and Ludacris or as quiet and stealthy as second-tier characters Han (Sung Kang) and Gisele (Gal Gadot). Meanwhile, Rodriguez makes a none-too-surprising but welcome return to the "Fast & Furious" scene after her supposed murder in the fourth movie, Letty's memories of Dom and her former cohorts wiped clean thanks to a convenient bout with amnesia that hasn't impaired her ability to drive.
Hobbs's occasional beat-downs on his usual suspects, paired with his associate Riley's (Gina Carano) knack for scrapping with anyone and everyone, speed things up when no one's behind the wheel, but as always, the focus is on burning rubber in all kinds of creative ways. This time, we get some peculiar sights with Shaw's car of choice a hybrid with a go-kart body, a Formula One engine and a cow-catcher to plow through oncoming traffic, creating some collisions for which you'll absolutely flip.
In between these zippy chase scenes, which keep getting more and more unbelievable in scope, there's the typical amount of drama among Dom and his pals enhanced here by the confusion of going against one of their own and the goal of finally having their records expunged.
As with all the movies leading up to this, it's too long and offers some really weak banter beyond the ongoing Toretto/O'Conner debate of American muscle cars vs. imports, but if "Fast Five" didn't get your motor running, this sixth installment will get the job done handily. The stunts, more insane than ever, will catch your eye while the prominent theme of family rings true and makes you care about this ragtag band of misfits even if you've spent the past decade trying to ignore these films.
The onscreen title "Furious 6" seems to indicate that the makers keep learning from their past mistakes and making their newer models more streamlined, powerful and effective. Although far from perfect, the latest vehicle has as much vroom-vroom and heart under the hood as Dom's beloved Dodge Charger, with the explosive ending setting us up for a seventh feature that promises to be even better.
Andy Bockelman is a Craig resident, freelance writer and Denver Film Critics Society accredited film fanatic who occasionally reviews movies playing in Steamboat Springs.