What we have here are 90 minutes of amusingly dumb action movie dragged out for a lumbering 130 minutes of asinine overkill that will probably have crossed the trillion-dollar mark at the box office by the time you read this. (The teachings of H.L. Mencken on “underestimating the American public” comes to mind here.) Granted, its immediate predecessor, Fast Five, was a similarly ponderous length, but it somehow didn’t seem quite this dumb and overbearing. That film had some excuse since it dragged in its sub-Ocean’s Eleven plotting (duplicated here) and introduced The “Dwayne Johnson” Rock (back for more in the latest film) to the proceedings. This latest — apparently meant to be called simply Furious 6 — is just more of the same with less plot, more stupidity and stunts that just plain get out of hand in both preposterousness and incoherent editing. I didn’t exactly mind sitting through it, but that doesn’t make it good. It also doesn’t mean I’m recommending it — not that anything I say is going to keep anyone from seeing the silly thing.
This round, the plot is predicated on a criminal mastermind named Owen Shaw (Luke Evans, Tamara Drewe) stealing something-or-other that will do something-or-other devastating and is therefore worth billions. It doesn’t really matter what it is or what it does (the whole point is to set all the big, noisy action sequences in motion). The bait for dragging in the Fast & Furious gang — now all filthy rich and living the good life in places without extradition treaties — involves taking a tip from 1940s serials and showing us how Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) didn’t really die in Fast & Furious (2009) and is now working for Shaw. Since Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is still pining for his lost love — and (as he reminds us every 10 minutes) because Letty is “family,” it’s a simple matter for Agent Hobbs (Johnson) to coerce everyone to help him track down Shaw (a promise of pardons doesn’t hurt). Oh, there’s same bother involving Letty suffering from movie-style amnesia and throwing Gina Carano (Haywire) into the mix as Hobbs’ partner, but it’s all about souped-up cars and increasingly elaborate and ridiculous action scenes. Throw in some fairly tepid comedy and performances that sometimes climb to the level of adequate et voila: instant hit movie.
Now, I’m a fair-minded man. I don’t object to a cheerfully stupid action picture, but this one is practically lobotomized. When I was 5 years old, I had a toy car that would fly to pieces whenever I sent it crashing into a wall. I found this vastly entertaining (my parents who had to put it back together on multiple occasions did not). This movie reminds me of that car — only noisier and less intellectually challenging. As each action sequence becomes more elaborate, the movie gets dumber. I was sort of willing to go along with the much-touted tank-on-the-highway sequence. Even if it defied the sketchiest understanding of physics, it was at least fairly coherent in its construction. But then we got the really big ending involving cars, a cargo plane and the world’s longest runway, and it all just went to hell in an orgy of incoherent editing, too many impossible stunts, too many musclebound heroics and, finally, just plain too much. Not content with this, the film insists we spend quality time with Dom and his “family” at an interminable cookout, followed by some credits, followed by the setup for FF 7 and the introduction of a new high-priced villain. If there was anything after the second bout of credits, I don’t know. I’d gone home. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action and mayhem throughout, some sexuality and language.
Playing at Carolina Cinemas, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, United Artists Beaucatcher