Movie Review: 'Fast & Furious 6' is overloaded with action and actors

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If the cast of "Fast & Furious 6" gets any bigger -- in number and biceps (Dwayne Johnson, we mean you) -- the filmmakers will have to release sequels a pair at a time. As it now stands, the seventh movie is scheduled for July 2014 and a tease at the end introduces the next action star joining the fray.

The franchise has been pared to the essentials: fast cars that somersault through the air and are pushed to maximum acceleration with the sound of the gas pedal being stomped on -- hard -- plus stunts that defy gravity or logic, fights in which the sound of every punch, kick, elbow or knee jab is juiced, and women who look like SI models turning up to watch street racing.

Throw in a hip-hop heavy soundtrack and you have a movie aimed at young men, for starters. Not that there's anything wrong with that when they drive the box office the way Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) handles a Dodge Daytona Charger.

The story opens months after the Rio heist in the fifth movie left the crew on the lam, scattered around the globe and with $100 million.

'Fast & Furious 6'

2 1/2 stars = Average
Ratings explained

  • Starring:

    Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Luke Evans.

  • Rating:

    PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action and mayhem throughout, some sexuality and language.

Dom and girlfriend Elena (Elsa Pataky), along with Brian (Paul Walker), Mia (Jordana Brewster) and their newborn, are living in the Canary Islands when Mr. Johnson's lawman Hobbs comes calling.

He is on the trail of another crew, this one led by the paramilitary-trained demon driver Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), who is building a "nightshade" device that could trigger widespread doom and destruction.

Hobbs plays the most important card in his deck to convince Dom and the others to reunite and head to London to track down Shaw and his criminal comrades: A photo of Dom's onetime love, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), purportedly taken a week earlier.

If legitimate, that would mean she's not dead, after all. Of course we knew that, based on a tease at the end of the fifth movie, but as Mia tells the guys, "You're stronger together. You always were. Now go get Letty and bring her home."

The gang, including characters played by Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Sung Kang and Gal Gadot, reunite in London where it turns out Letty is alive and aligned with the enemy. "You don't turn your back on family even when they do," Dom vows in his signature low rumble.

"Fast & Furious 6" engages in a series of explosions, fast-car chases and races and battles worthy of an MMA octagon -- including one between Ms. Rodriguez and fighter turned actress Gina Carano, who portrays Hobbs' second in command -- and then starts the cycle again in another city and pumps up the volume even more.

Along the way, Mr. Gibson sprinkles some comic relief, asking, "Why do I smell baby oil?" before The Rock appears with those glistening "Pain & Gain" guns or suggesting of Shaw and his team, "It's like we're hunting our evil twins."

Justin Lin, directing for a fourth time, revisits the themes of family and home but concentrates on big, loud, cra-zee action scenes and stunts involving planes, tanks and automobiles and drivers who are launched into the air like Flying Wallendas. Throughout, most seem impervious to injury, surviving bruising battles with a few cuts or literally going through fire and emerging unscathed.

"Fast & Furious 6" is like a plane that's overbooked: too many passengers or cast members, too few seats, lines of dialogue or chances to shine. Although super-heavyweight bodybuilder Kim Kold actually got to act in festival favorite "Teddy Bear," he is just a Hulking presence here, and even the Welsh actor playing Shaw remains remote and chilly.

For an operation with so much at stake, Agent Hobbs is often a lone wolf and opportunities to apprehend Shaw are lost, but this is all about the mantra: Ride or die. Or, sometimes, die and come back to life in a sequel down the road.

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Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: or 412-263-1632. Read her blog: First Published May 24, 2013 4:00 AM


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