Here's the thing about the apparently endless string of Fast & Furious movies. As number six gets ready to roar into theaters, I find myself only dimly in touch with the first five. They've all blended into a blur of flexed muscles, macho posturing, revving engines and nitrous-fueled blasts of energy.
I agree with those who've credited director Jason Lin -- at the helm for the last four movies and now bowing out of the series -- with giving the Fast & Furious audience precisely what it wants. (See list above and add a bit of female flesh for spunk and pulchritude for good measure.)
I don't mean to sound totally cynical about any of this. It can't be easy to orchestrate the stunt and special effects work that sells tickets to a franchise that began way back in the Pleistocene days of 2001 with director Rob Cohen at the helm.
Should each sequel fail to escalate the level of excitement, fans easily could revolt. And, yes, some of the action is so impossibly silly that you can't help but smile as you watch. Let the actors pretend that the plot actually matters. There's no compelling reason for us to follow suit.
Adding Dwayne Johnson to the Fast & Furious mix and bringing back Michelle Rodriguez (whose character was supposed to have died) hasn't hurt anything in the sixth edition.
Through all of its chaos, the series has tried (not as successfully this time) to remain true to the street-racing ethos that gave the first movie trace elements of authenticity, but -- for me -- even well-staged action can seem a little routine at this point, and I can't say that either Paul Walker (as one of the leads) and Vin Diesel (as another) are among the actors whose work I deeply admire.
I suppose the filmmakers have come up with a serviceable enough plot. A terrorist (Luke Evans) wants to build some sort of nuclear device. Aiming to stop him, Johnson's character, a cop of some sort, travels to the Canary Islands to recruit Walker and Diesel, outlaws who claim to have abandoned the wild life.
They haven't, of course, and the movie quickly kicks into globe-hopping mode. The explanation for what brings Rodriguez's character back to life is far-fetched, but then again, so is just about everything in a Fast & Furious movie.
The rest of cast (Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kan and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges adds seasoning, and some attempt has been made to show that time has passed.
Walker's Brian and Jordana Brewster's Mia now have a baby, which suggests that the Fast & Furious mantle will be passed on forever, eventually rivaling the age of giant Redwoods.
Oh well, it's better to please the movie's core audience than to rile it. Fast and Furious 6 may not make dramatic history, but it should keep the gear-heads, wannabes and fanboys and girls happy, even as the rest of us wonder if it's not time to slow down.