The once stylish, fun, and edgy take on underground racing has sadly switched lanes and become a hyper-masculine mash-up of every defect commercial Hollywood productions have to offer. From the lack of an attempt to properly name the last two installments (Fast 5, Fast and Furious 6), to the redundant fight sequences and completely unmemorable villain, the franchise is officially running on empty.
Although the entire crew, comprised of both new and old members, is back for number 6, the plot is shamelessly contrived and revolves around the acquisition of, wait for it…a briefcase. Luke (Dwayne Johnson) and his sidekick Riley (Gina Carano) recruit the familiar anti-heroes, Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker), Roman (Tyrese), and Tej (Ludacris) to take down Shaw (Luke Evans). The story takes the crew on a worldwide chase for the antagonist, but this global scale doesn’t add any allure to the franchise. In fact it contradicts the intimate theme of family repeatedly emphasized over the course of the film. These characters were all much more interesting on the gritty, reggaeton bumping, streets of Los Angeles. Even the re-mergence of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), fell short of the gravity it could have brought to the film.
While the films were never narrative masterpieces from the start, the early installments had enough storyline and real character tension to keep the audience entertained beyond the spectacle packed race sequences. In part 6 however, the plot is too thin leaving the far-fetched action sequences at the forefront more than ever. They’re so unrealistic you can’t suspend your disbelief enough to enjoy the film, and the stunts become unintentionally campy.
Only one race, involving Letty and Dom, stands out as particularly memorable. It induced the nostalgic heart pumping effect the past films offer but only for a couple of minutes, but sadly this isn’t enough to uphold the film. The films have always had a tie to the hip-hop scene but this race utilizes a house track to pace the race and it works quite well. I only wish it either committed to a new aesthetic more wholeheartedly, or returned more faithfully to it’s hip-hop roots. Beyond the ridiculous stunts, the one-liners are also at an all time high. It felt as if Vin Diesel, The Rock, Tyrese and Ludacris were competing for who could execute the silliest one liner most comically.
What used to be a fun, guilty pleasure that offered a taste of an interesting underground subculture has now become a densely packed mash-up of silly one-liners, nonsensical stunts and a paper-thin plot. I walked in desperately wanting to have a good time, but sadly, this franchise has officially run its course.
Verdict: Skip It.