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New Release Review - Fast & Furious 6

Sixth installment in the high-octane franchise.

Directed by: Justin Lin
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Luke Evans, Gina Carano, Jason Statham, Elsa Pataky, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson

Retired criminal Dominic Toretto (Diesel) is living in exile in the Canary Islands when he is approached by Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobbs (Johnson) with an offer of a full pardon for his crimes. Hobbs needs Toretto's crew to help take down a London based criminal, Owen Shaw (Evans), who is using a crew of expert drivers to pull off heists across Europe. When Hobbs shows Toretto a recent photo of his girlfriend, Letty (Rodriguez), who he presumed dead, working for Shaw, Toretto accepts and assembles his crew.
'The Fast & The Furious' franchise has a curious history. The first installment, a loose remake of a 1955 Roger Corman production, was a relatively big hit, given its medium budget, and made Diesel a star for a brief few years. Diesel was doing so well he turned down the sequel and made just a short cameo in the third movie. By the time the fourth movie arrived in 2009, however, his career was well and truly washed up so he was happy to return to the series. His return boosted the fortunes of the franchise and, unbelievably, 2011's 'Fast 5' enjoyed Universal's biggest ever opening weekend, ensuring this latest episode of vehicular mayhem. The first movie was a simple, and pleasant enough, reworking of the "cop seduced by crime" theme explored so well in 'Point Break'. Now the budget's as bloated as Johnson's biceps, as is the running time (a mind-numbing 130 minutes).
Watching this film is like being repeatedly struck on the head by a wrench, thanks to a script that seems to have been written by the producer's ten-year-old nephew. This is a thinking man's blockbuster, but only in the sense that you'll spend two hours trying to wrap your head around what exactly is happening before your eyes. The film raises a lot of questions. Questions like; why are the streets of Europe's busiest city always so empty, how can a car drive at 100mph for 20 minutes down an airport runway without running out of tarmac, and, if two objects collide in mid air at velocity do they...well, you get the idea. The characters here break a lot of laws, including several laws of physics.
Little in this film makes any sense. Why Johnson decides to recruit this inept bunch of criminals is beyond me as we don't see them achieve anything that actually requires their particular skills. In fact, everything Diesel and his crew touch ends in disaster. Johnson bullies his way around Europe, mocking those pansy European law officials' soft approach by employing his own brand of violence, a tactic which, shockingly, results in scores of civilian deaths which are never acknowledged in the film's happy ending. About fifty Spanish motorists are killed in one set-piece, but hey, Diesel gets his girl back in the end so it's worth it, right? If this was meant as an allegory for American foreign policy, it's genius. I'm not going to give the film-makers that much credit.
The concept of high speed chases through London must have looked great on paper, but Lin films it in such a dull, confusing manner, the onscreen result is completely underwhelming. If you're the sort of viewer who thinks a rim-job is something a mechanic does to your tires, you'll probably be satisfied by this. The rest of us will stick with movies like 'The French Connection' and 'To Live & Die in L.A' for our car-chase kicks.
3/10

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