Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Paul Walker, Michele Rodriguez, Gal Gadot, Jordana Brewster (Rated M – 130 min).
Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. Against all odds, the Fast & Furious franchise gets better the further it goes into overdrive. I am not talking about script progression, the wafer thin plot is as basic as it gets, but the stunts continue to remain astoundingly creative. You don’t even need to have seen the previous five smash up derby’s as the opening credit montage skims through various moments that brought the team of car experts to where they are now, millionaires living incognito globally.
Team leader Dominic Toretto (an enigmatic Vin Diesel) is approached by Special Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to gain support from his former group of criminals in the capture of a highly destructive arms dealer terrorising London. Car enthusiast Toretto just wants to remain in exile but Hobbs has the bait to get him back on the job, a recent picture of former true love Letty (Michele Rodriguez), previously deceased. The cobblestone streets of old London-Town will never be the same, street races are only the beginning of the mayhem about to take place. I never knew hot rods could so easily race around an over-populated city in peak hour without congestion.
These movies are what they are, a stimulating fix of adrenalin, it’s all about the magnificently souped up automobiles and the cool drivers behind the wheel. The story takes a back seat. I love a good car chase and what is real to what is digitally enhanced is very hard to distinguish. As the movies progress, the stunts go colossal, going from ridiculous to fantastic, but most of all dramatic. A majority of the action takes place in England, but a visit to LA and Spain make up parts of the universal story.
Helicopters and motorcycles are part of various pursuits, however a military airport runway chase of a cargo-plane goes on way too long. Going the opposite way to an onslaught of freeway traffic, a tank creates white knuckle destruction in one of the most exciting highway chases ever seen on film. A particular high flying moment in this chase is literally breathtaking. Family, honour, passion and of course resurrection is explored during the few quieter moments of an inexcusable bland plot.
No Oscar-worthy performances here with adequate acting at best. There is still certain charisma to ‘most’ of the characters, especially Toretto and his sister Mia, played by an under-appreciated Jordana Breswter of D.E.B.S and The Faculty. It’s comforting to know the female element is not only there for eye candy, they can fight and drive fast too.
For those who can’t get enough of this gas guzzling hoopla, a refreshing final scene introduces a brand new character which will leave you hanging for Part 7.
© Shane A. Bassett