Fast & Furious 6 is equal parts Ocean’s movie, Road Runner cartoon, and WWE SmackDown. In other words, it’s more or less the same movie as its predecessor, 2011’s Fast Five—a surprise commercial and critical hit that didn’t so much reinvigorate the Fast & Furious franchise as reinvent it. The series, which began in 2001 with Rob Cohen’s throwback exploitation movie The Fast And The Furious, has dropped any pretense of grit; like Fast Five, Furious 6 is a big, colorful B-movie romp where the laws of physics are routinely ignored. There are long, mayhem-heavy setpieces involving armored race cars, tanks, harpoons, and cargo planes. There are logic-defying leaps, as well as leaps in logic. It’s dumb fun—nothing more, nothing less.
In the world of the Fast & Furious franchise, any crime can be committed using a car and every problem is solved by adding more cars. As the movie opens, Fast Five antagonist Dwayne Johnson is hunting a team of automotive terrorists led by Luke Evans. Using the logic that one should fight fire with fire—or “wolves with wolves,” as he puts it—he seeks out Vin Diesel, who has retired from car-centric crime to lead a quiet life in the Canary Islands. Johnson piques Diesel’s interest by showing him a picture of one of Evans’ team members—Diesel’s ex-girlfriend, played by Michelle Rodriguez, who has long been presumed dead. After about 30 seconds of soul-searching, Diesel calls his old gang back together; in exchange for full pardons and a fleet of sweet vintage cars, they’ll help Johnson catch Evans.
The large supporting cast—a liability in most action franchises—is one of Furious 6’s assets; the movie emphasizes team action over solo heroics and group banter over one-liners. The potentially dragging Rodriguez subplot is covered in a handful of scenes spread out across the movie, and every member of the gang— Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Ludacris, Gal Gadot—gets roughly equal screen time; as a result, the movie often plays more like an ensemble piece than a Vin Diesel vehicle. Furious 6’s climactic showdown isn’t staged mano a mano, but team vs. team, each member doing their part. It’s the action-movie equivalent of K-Pop.