The previous installment in the Fast & Furious series, Fast Five, was by far the best in the franchise—a perfect mix of hilariously wooden acting, stunning action scenes, and bizarre homoerotic subtext. It set the bar impossibly high, and Fast & Furious 6 can’t help but seem a bit lame in comparison.
For one thing, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has improved as an actor, much to the movie’s detriment. After his surprisingly strong turn in Pain & Gain, he seems far more confident in front of the camera, and isn’t quite as one-note as he was in Fast Five. As a result, his terse exchanges with Vin Diesel aren’t nearly as funny this time around. The action scenes, while first-rate, don’t quite measure up to the crazy train chase scene and safe-dragging scene in Fast Five, which rank among the greatest car chases of the decade. Most disappointing of all, the love story in Fast & Furious 6 doesn’t center on Vin Diesel and The Rock, but rather on Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez, whose character suffers from amnesia. Whereas Fast Five was essentially a remake of John Woo’s classic The Killer (i.e. in that both focus on men on opposite sides of the law who seem to admire each other a little too much), Fast & Furious 6 is basically a remake of The Vow with a lot of car chases thrown in. The idea of remaking The Killer with two deeply uncharismatic actors subbing in for two extremely charismatic ones (Chow Yun-fat and Danny Lee) was inspired; the idea of inserting car chases into The Vow, not so much.
After fleeing Brazil with the $100 million that they stole in Fast Five, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew have gone their separate ways. Until one morning Luke Hobbs (The Rock) shows up at Dominic’s Canary Island mansion with a manilla envelope and a job offer. The envelop contains recent pictures of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Dominic’s presumed-to-be-dead girlfriend who Hobbs says is working with a rival robbing crew led by a mysterious ex-special forces soldier named Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Since no law enforcement agency in the world is competent enough to bring Shaw and his men to justice, Hobbs enlists the help of Dominic and his crew.
A series of extremely long car chases follow, some of them quite stunning. In between car chases, Dominic tries to make contact with Letty and win her over, much in the same way that Channing Tatum tried to win over Rachel McAdams in The Vow. If you haven’t seen The Vow, you may find these scenes at least mildly interesting.
There are a few other things that also happen in between the car chases, but they don’t make much sense. For some reason, Brian (Paul Walker) decides that he needs to fly to California and pose as a prisoner in order to interview Braga, the villain from one of the previous movies. But don’t they have law enforcement officials in the U.S. who could do that for him? And when Braga tells Brian that “the only way to get close to Shaw is if he lets you”, why does Brian act like this is an important revelation? Shouldn’t he be extremely disappointed that he flew all that way just to be told something so basic? (Mild spoiler alert). Later, when Hobbs takes Shaw into custody, Shaw reveals that his men have taken a hostage. Hobbs’ response? He gives Shaw a component of a weapon that can potentially kill millions of people and let’s him go. Are we seriously to believe that a law enforcement agent would put millions of lives at risk in order to save a single hostage? And when Hobbs lets Shaw go, why does he have Ludacris block the area’s cell phone reception and immediately chase after him? Wouldn’t it have made more sense just to not release him in the first place? And how does he know that Shaw plans to get away on a plane that’s carrying the hostage in question? None of this makes any sense whatsoever.
So, if mile-wide plot holes, stunning car chases, and shot by shot recreations of scene from The Vow are what you’re looking for, Fast & Furious 6 delivers. But if you were hoping for another Fast Five-level camp masterpiece, you’re in for a disappointment.