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The Independent Critic

Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker, Gina Carano, Rihanna, Tyrese Gibson
Justin Lin
Chris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson
Rated PG-13
130 Mins.
Universal Pictures

 "Fast & Furious 6" or "Fast & Furious. Again."  
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With the Rio Heist from Fast 5 having snagged $100 million for Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker) and their crew, everyone has scattered themselves around the world. Unfortunately, even for elite criminals money can't completely buy happiness and the crew longs for a return home to familiarity and family. Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), on the other hand, is tracking a highly skilled group of highway mercenaries across 12 countries. Led by Shaw (Luke Evans) and a mysterious and merciless second-in-command long thought gone (Michelle Rodriguez), the group isn't about to be taken down unless Hobbs can get the cooperation of Dom, Brian and the rest of the gang. The deal? They'll team up in exchange for full pardons and the chance to return home.

If you're really going to Fast & Furious 6 for the storyline, then there's probably something wrong with you anyway. This is not a series that has ever really been about the story, though somehow the story has grown to matter and, let's face it, these are characters that we enjoy. After all, how can we possibly explain a six-film series that seems to get even more energized with each film?

There's nothing brilliant to be found in Fast & Furious 6, but it's hard to imagine anyone who has embraced the first five films in the series not having an absolute blast at this latest over-the-top, hyper-stylized action flick.

I will confess that it took me awhile to find myself fully surrendered to the sheer lunacy of everything that unfolds here, but eventually I found myself sucked into the Fast & Furious world once again mostly because I really do find myself enjoying these characters a little more with each film. There's a comfort level in the Fast & Furious films that seems to come with having a cast that enjoys working together and that has clearly figured out how to maximize their chemistry. They're aware that they're having dumb fun, but they're having quite a bit of dumb fun. I suppose I can understand, at least a little bit, why some folks are destined to not care for this latest film (we call them film critics) but your average moviegoer is going to find much to appreciate in this loud, over-the-top, occasionally quite funny and spirited action film with enough camaraderie that it almost qualifies as a military flick.

Director Justin Lin has clearly re-energized this series in ways I'd have considered unimaginable after the fourth film in the series petered out within the realm of mediocrity. Fast & Furious 6 is high octane pop trash, but it's full-on and unapologetically so and offers a relentlessly good time to those willing to go along for yet another ride. If you're expecting a whole lot of realistic action here, and some of you are, then you'll likely be disappointed as Lin has really amped up the unbelievable factor here with some of the action sequences. For some, these over-the-top sequences will feel forced and out of place.

Trust me, I get it.

Maybe I was just in the mood for it?

Who knows? All I know is that it's going to be interesting to see what happens with Justin Lin sitting out the seventh film in the series (which is already in the works).

In addition to the main players, familiar faces like Tyrese, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges and Sung Kang are back plus the addition of folks like Rihanna and Gina Carano. The chemistry is so delightfully spot-on that it almost feels like we could call the film a Happy Madison production for the action crowd.

It was a tad amazing to me, not because the film is offensive in anyway, that this film is a solid PG-13 while the film opening opposite it, The Hangover 3, comes in with an R-rating. That should pretty much nail the coffin on any chance Hangover 3 has of capturing decent box-office this Memorial Day weekend.

Sometimes, even a film critic can surrender to a film that is both ridiculous and ridiculously fun. Sometimes, there's simply no "logical" reason to recommend a film other than having the faint idea that those who like that sort of film are going to have a good time. Sometimes, a good time is good enough.

Fast & Furious & Fun. That's enough.

© Written by Richard Propes 
The Independent Critic