By STEVE PERSALL
Tampa Bay Times
At some point during Fast & Furious 6, it’s wiser to toss your hands in the air and let the dumbness wash over you. Don’t ask how this or that could possibly happen or wonder if anyone in the audience is actually gullible enough to believe it could.
Just breathe. Through your mouth, of course.
Surrendering to the movie’s high-octane stupidity has its advantages. Where else can you watch Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s stunt double dive unharmed several stories into speeding vehicles not once but twice? The second time happens on what must be the world’s longest airport runway since the plane Johnson jumps from taxis straight ahead at full speed for at least 10 minutes, with armored vehicles dangling on cables from its wings like cheap earrings.
Not to be outdone, the equally bald and considerably less biceped Vin Diesel stunt double makes an earlier, even more far-fetched leap from a speeding car. That one goes across two lanes of elevated highway traffic and over an open median, in order to grab someone in mid air who’s propelled from a crashing automobile.
Both land safely and, of course, unharmed.
Those escapades take up barely a minute of Fast & Furious 6, so you can imagine how much testosterone-soaked absurdity gets squeezed into the remaining two hours and change. It’s enough to make the movie’s lone slice of common sense — an end credit disclaimer warning viewers not to try this stuff at home — seem laughable. Necessary, perhaps, but laughable.
Let’s pause to treat Fast & Furious 6 as if it’s a real movie and spell out the plot: Diesel’s Dom Toretto reunites his lead-footed gang at the behest of Johnson’s federal agent Luke Hobbs, who’s trailing a former black ops master (Luke Evans) specializing in vehicular assault tactics. One of the bad guy’s accomplices is Dom’s former girlfriend Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), who has amnesia after her death in an earlier movie was greatly exaggerated.
It’s all just an excuse for cars, trucks and tanks to race through the highways and byways of England and Spain, occasionally stopping for fisticuffs or thronged eye candy.
When the ignitions are turned off, that rumble you hear is macho declarations issued with menacing growls.
The trip is concussively fun to a point, at which time it becomes a relentless sensory mugging. Even that has a guilty pleasure factor that’s tough to resist.
Fast & Furious 6 is speedy and angry enough to not even use its complete official title, opting to call itself simply Furious 6 in the opening credits. This franchise that won’t die began in 2001 as The Fast and the Furious and has pretty much run through every title permutation, so the inevitable next chapter might be called only The & The 7.
Fast & Furious 6
Director: Justin Lin
Cast: Vin Diesel, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Paul Walker, Luke Evans, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Gina Carano, Sung Kang, Jordana Brewster, Elsa Pataky
Screenplay: Chris Morgan, based on characters created by Gary Scott Thompson
Rating: PG-13; intense action and mayhem, strong violence and profanity, brief sexual content
Running time: 130 min.