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Giles Keyte

Michelle Rodriguez as Letty in Fast & Furious 6.

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★★★★✩

Fast & Furious 6

Directed by Justin Lin

Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, and Michelle Rodriguez

They’re back! The star-studded cast of the venerable 12-year-old franchise, with its explosive combination of fast cars and furious drivers, returns to deliver another high-octane action thriller. Justin Lin is once again at the helm of the movie, continuing his stellar directing performance on the franchise. Lin was in fact instrumental in resurrecting and rebooting the series after the first few mediocre sequels.

Fast & Furious 6 delivers on all counts. For the diehard fans of the series, it brings together all the major characters from the previous films and contains numerous inside jokes and references to past storylines. However, the plot is straightforward enough that the movie is equally entertaining and satisfying for newbies as well. The action sets new records for intensity and spectacle. Aided by stunning visuals and bold cinematography, and featuring lots of sports cars and many other surprising vehicles, the car chases are so rich in adrenaline that they border on ludicrous, yet they still thoroughly satisfy. The thrill of the action is also magnified by contrasting static scenes that delve into character development, perhaps even more so than in the previous movies. While it’s hard to be taken seriously in this genre, and scenes with unintentional humor still abound, the actors (especially Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson) deliver convincing performances that stretch beyond simple posturing. Finally, the movie makes excellent use of the comedic talents of Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris, keeping the dialogue snappy and the whole atmosphere light hearted.

The last Fast & Furious movie, Fast Five, had the protagonists scatter around the world to enjoy the fruits of their successful Rio heist, but unable to ever return home. When confronted with a new elite underground organization of car smugglers, CIA agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) enlists Dom (Vin Diesel) and his team for help, in return for full pardons. Hesitant at first, Dom accepts the challenge when he finds out that his former flame Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), presumed dead, is in fact alive and among the leaders of the smugglers. At first, Dom’s team finds itself at a disadvantage being significantly outclassed in the “vehicular warfare” category. Nevertheless, what starts out as a predictable, linear story quickly develops into a thrilling adventure full of suspense, and delightful twists and turns. Passion, betrayal, revenge, sacrifice — all are elements that fuel the dramatic buildup which culminates in the (literally) explosive finale.

As in with the other movies, the cars are the bread and butter of Fast & Furious 6. The dizzying variety in makes and models is part of the movie’s appeal. We see run-of-the-mill BMW M5s juxtaposed to sexy sports cars (Nissan Skyline, Eagle Speedster Jaguar E-type, Lamborghini Murcielago, Lucra LC470) and a few American muscle cars (Dodge Charger, Ford Escort, Ford Mustang). The cars are also used effectively to describe the personality of their drivers, which is why every protagonist has a different car: Shaw (Luke Evans), the smooth villain boasts a Bond-style Aston Martin; Dom’s ruggedness is embodied in his roaring Dodge Daytona; Letty whizzes by in a sleek Jensen Interceptor, while the hulking Hobbs drives around a Navistar MXT military jeep. In fact, the vitality of the people is further exemplified in the car crashes: unlike in real life, almost no car crash is fatal. Even more incredibly, breaking your fall onto a car (as opposed to onto a pavement) makes the difference between life and death. While the selective application of the laws of physics can be irritating, it does bestow a certain mystical aura upon the cars that the audience can easily relate to.

Fast & Furious 6 features more than just cars. Numerous other kinds of vehicles get chased and eventually smashed up. We also witness innovative uses of high-tensile titanium cable, and we learn how to neutralize a tank chasing you on a busy highway. With the right skill and some luck, even a massive Antonov cargo plane can be brought down using a few intrepid cars and drivers. Once again, the laws of motion and gravity are treated as optional guidelines, but the suspension of disbelief is fully achieved with spectacular special effects, aggressive camera angles and a highly-driven yet remarkably diverse soundtrack.

With all the elements of its established winning formula in place, and a few extra, the movie is a sure summer blockbuster. And if you feel you haven’t gotten enough of the Fast & Furious, fret not. Midway through the credits, a new car chase unfolds introducing a pissed Jason Statham vowing revenge; which can only mean the seventh Fast & Furious movie is coming soon.