Review: 'Fast & Furious 6'

The opening rap lyric of "Fast & Furious 6" professes that "Only God can judge," which is as fitting a mantra for the entire "Fast" series as you'll find this side of a NASCAR track. For really, what is there to judge? The cars go extremely fast, the (non-supporting) ladies traipse around in skimpy outfits, and the stunts somehow get bigger and badder each and every time out of the gate. Plausibility? Uhh, no thanks. Realistic aerial physics? Ha, good one! Jocular humor combined with death-defying action? Well, sure, yes please, and drive through safely. This is a franchise entirely comfortable with what it is, what it's not, and what it has to offer. It has a whole mess of "Fast" for us all, and woe be the souls who enter this film hoping to go slow.

Before we get into the relative merits of "Fast & Furious 6," it's high time we unpack one of the true oddities of the series, the very wonky timeline. To take you back, the third "Fast and Furious," beautifully titled "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" was, perhaps mistakenly, placed ahead of the rest of the franchise, meaning "Fast Five" is in fact prior to "Tokyo Drift". This salient issue has certainly caused the "Fast" writing team to twist themselves into knots with near constant continuity conundrums. And for what? To include Lucas Black? To gross less money than any of the other films? Okay, they managed to get Sung Kang (as Han) out of the deal, so it wasn't a complete debacle, only 90 percent of one (and that's coming from one of the few "Tokyo Drift" apologists).

Which brings us to "Fast & Furious 6" - a film that has any number of goals, some of them in stark opposition. The film wanted to bring back a main character, no spoilers ahead, but they also needed to get back on track with the timeline, if only to stop writing in the past tense, fact-checking every line of dialogue as if it was under Congressional subpoena. Naturally, they also needed to make an exciting and entertaining film, somehow weave Dwayne Johnson in again, up the action quotient, all while having some overarching motivation for the "gang" to get back together (after they struck it rich the last time around). You'll remember most of the crew from "Fast Five" all the way back in 2011, the usual suspects, Ludacris, Gal Gadot, Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Tyrese Gibson, and of course the aforementioned Dwayne Johnson. The camaraderie and chemistry are fun, gallows humor utilized throughout, and no scene is too far way from a huge action sequence. Here is a popcorn and soda film for 2013, even more than the superhero films, the "Fast" franchise has now taken root as the go-to pulp entertainment.

The mission this time around? Well, of course it's to protect the universe from a "Nightshade Tech Bomb" which is just as awful as it sounds. This weapon does something along the lines of blinding a military for a day, which I suppose would be instant death for the country targeted? Or something along those lines? The stakes certainly seem to be very high, and luckily most of the fighting is handled in very speedy cars. And oh, the cars, the lovely NOS-laden American and Foreign muscle on full and shiny chrome display. The Dodge Challenger makes a few appearances (I want them to get their product-placement money's worth) as well as a host of BMWs, Chargers, Nissans, and an Aston Martin naturally, thrown in for good measure. There's plenty of military hardware on display here too, and that's not even counting The Rock's physique (heeeyoooo). Many callbacks are utilized to tickle your sentimental bone, all in an effort to make this more of an "event" than an actual movie, but it would be dishonest not to cede that it mostly works. For "Fast and Furious" is a franchise to get sentimental about, perhaps the last true action series left (with apologies to Daniel Craig and his "Bond" series). There are also, scientifically speaking, a billion action scenes. At least! Scenes where life, death, property damage, and Hemi Motors hang desperately in the balance. At some point in "Fast & Furious 6" everyone will have to save everyone, twists transpire galore, fist fights, car fights, and gun fights satiating every member of the "I'm loving perilous situations" club.

Are there clear issues in "Fast & Furious 6"? Of course! These issues can be counted off in rapid succession, especially as the film culminates, there are so many problems you'd need to involve a non-dominant hand and both of your feet for a proper tally. The way they bring the forgotten main character back, the timing involved in numerous action scenes, the sheer implausibility of most of the "big" moments - if you are the logical sort you could end up very angry about the entire endeavor. Still, I don't know who sees the "Fast" series in that sort of mood, for this is the very definition of a "benefit of the doubt" style movie. Comedy, danger, bro-mances, "ride or die," and flirty sexual looks from badass female drivers, this movie has something for everyone, so long as everyone wants their action supercharged and shot through a firehose, the copious gallons of water washing over even the heartiest of intellects.

SCORE: 8.0 / 10