The Fast & Furious franchise has shifted gears dramatically since its early days as a cult series about underground street racing. Ramped up in full-tilt mode to maximise audience potential, it’s now become one of the biggest selling action franchises on the planet, in serious pursuit of the box-office territory occupied by the Bond films. So if you’re an action fan but have ignored the franchise so far, Furious 6 (as it is known) is really worth checking out. Breathless car chases mix with fist and gun fights – the girls giving as good as the guys – all with the now mature characters offering a little bit of personality, charm and thought in between the tire changes.
The film starts where F&F 5 concluded: the fast driving, hard hitting criminal gang of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) spread over the world in various stages of retirement (yeah, sure). All it takes to bring them together is a heist so daring that FBI agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) realises there’s only one group he can turn to, and the entire crew is offered an amnesty if they help. Their mission is to bring bad boy Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) to justice. Shaw has a fast driving gang of his own, an endless supply of weapons, and is slowly assembling a seriously dirty bomb which he wants to sell to anyone with some seriously dirty cash. Shaw also has Toretto’s ex-girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) a character presumed dead, but who really only ended the last film with amnesia. (The surprise return of characters MIA has become something of a signature for the franchise). So, can Toretto’s crew outdrive Shaw’s crew (they all look strangely alike) and bring Letty back to her senses before the bomb gets built?
Spinning from the Canary Islands to London, Moscow, Los Angeles and everywhere in between, director Justin Lin doesn’t hold anything back in an amped up, demolition derby where tanks and planes join the more familiar bikes and cars in what one character calls “ve-hicular mayhem.” There’s not a lot of subtlety in dialogue and performances – especially from the grunting Vin Diesel – but the script (from Lin and Chris Morgan) sprinkles enough charm and comedy on the characters that the frenetic story never turns dry. As you’d expect, the stunts are spectacular, the music pumps and the gears grind. Start your engines.