Fast and Furious 6

Universal Pictures
What it's about:

Hobbs has Dom and Brian reassemble their crew in order to take down a mastermind who commands an organization of mercenary drivers across 12 countries. Payment? Full pardons for them all.

What we thought:

There's a scene in Fast 6, née Fast & Furious 6, that shows a couple tearing around London in their respective souped-up cars, showing off their skills behind the wheel. I think that counts as flirting in this franchise. Sweet talk? They chat about the proper approach to braking and other driving techniques. In The Fast and Furious universe, romance always comes with the rumble of a growling V8 engine beneath it.

I liked Fast 5, the previous film in the series. It was fun and seemed to have a knowing sense of its own ridiculousness. That sense of self-awareness is carried over to this new film, which is good, because this one manages to comfortably exceed the cartoonish absurdity of Fast 5.

This film finds Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel, sounding increasingly as if he's had his larynx swopped for a sub-woofer) hiding out in Rio. Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) comes knocking, asking for Dom's help in finding a crafty crook (played by Luke Evans) pulling off heists across Europe and Dom has to assemble his team to catch the villain.

The catch? It turns out that Toretto's former flame, Letty (played by Michelle Rodriguez), whom he'd been led to believe was dead, is actually one of the bad guy's crew.

There's a few other things floating around, but let's be frank, story is not top of your list of concerns when showing up for this kind of film. You're after spectacle - and in that regard you won't be disappointed. Surely the only film this year to feature a man performing a flying head-butt, Fast 6 really doesn't skimp on the spectacle.

Director Justin Lin could be accused of letting his action outstay its welcome (there's definitely a bit of bloat here) but you really won't complain that you didn't get your money's worth.

Since the fourth film, the series has left its original, street-racing roots far behind. Now it's about sharp crews coming up with plans. More Ocean's Eleven, less tearing around the streets in your modified ride. I don't have a problem with that. There's only so much racing for racing's sake that the average human being can take. Fast 6 is definitely more in line with Fast 5 in terms of its story and that one was the best of the series in this reviewer's opinion.

It helps that Lin's cast is clearly game for this cartoonish excess, and he's a smart enough director to give them room play. One fight scene in a train station is a particular stand-out in this respect and is great fun.

The acting is about what you'd expect. Diesel growls, Paul Walker is Paul Walker, and Dwayne Johnson stomps around as only he can. I enjoyed Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges and Tyrese Gibson, who were responsible for most of the laughs. While not as funny as the previous film, there's still a couple of yuks to be had (even if not all of them are intentional).

Be sure not to leave once the credits start rolling. I won't give anything away but suffice it to say that with the promise made here, should The Expendables 3 and Fast 7 be released in the same year, the level of testosterone released into the atmosphere could send civilisation back to the Stone Age.

Look, I'm not fooling anyone here. If you're a fan, you're going to see it, and you're going to love it..

If you're a detractor, you're not about to change with this one. For my part, while not as good as Fast 5, it's a noisy, fun and ridiculous time at the movies.