CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS AND LOLS
"All Roads Lead To This", proclaims the tagline on the (frankly rubbish) posters, and it's fair to say that since the third film in this increasingly silly but also increasingly enjoyable franchise they've pretty much known precisely where they were going with it, and that's upwards. No longer content with ripping off truckloads of DVD players, we've now reached a point where the McGuffin is a military superweapon that would be worth billions to the right genocidal maniac. No longer content with flinging customised sports cars round a closed circuit in the small hours, we're now flinging tanks and bikes around public highways in broad daylight. No longer content with a mere winner-takes-all race for a climax, we now have the opening plane/car chase sequence of John Woo's already balls-to-the-wall mental Face/Off extended to about three times its length and which had me in more fits of delirious giggling than Adam Sandler will manage in his next three hundred films put together.
The series has already brought one character back from the dead by rewriting the timeline so that the third film (Tokyo Drift) actually takes place after this one, presumably so Han (Sung Kang) can still be in them. Now Fast & Furious 6 also resurrects Dom's old girlfriend Letty from FF1 and FF4 (Michelle Rodriguez), murdered off-screen in Fast Five but now back as an amnesiac now working for the villains, in a shameless plot device straight from the world of daytime soaps. Even by the standards of the Resident Evil movies, in which Michelle Rodriguez was also brought back from the dead through frankly ridiculous plot contrivances, this smacks more of "whatever it takes to get the band back together" than any kind of plausibility.
But the band are back together: Tyrese Gibson and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges from FF2 and FF5, Shea Wigham from FF4, Paul Walker from all but FF3, Diesel from all but FF2, Jordana Brewster from FF1, 4 and 5, and of course The Rock from FF5. They're all doing their party piece and it's now down to a fine art as precise as the demented stuntwork - which is three quarters of the appeal over the one quarter of character development. If you're expecting subtle and insightful human drama, you're not just in the wrong cinema, but the wrong town. To a greater or lesser degree, these films have always been bromances between Diesel and Walker, but they're constantly interrupted every ten minutes or so by screeching tyres or fights.On the other hand, if you're expecting screeching tyres and fights then this is the best film in ages for delivering nutso action sequences; A Good Day To Die Hard is nothing in comparison.
Does it matter that the final airport chase/fight goes on for so long that the runway must be about twenty miles long? Does it matter that there are not one but two brutal fistfights on the London Underground, neither resulting in anyone being arrested (despite three coppers being duffed up) and no-one going to Casualty to have half a dozen bones set? Does it matter than Diesel and Rodriguez are somehow able to drive through London's glittering West End at 170 mph? I'll admit to a small niggle during the tank chase as to the number of innocent civilians are casually crushed to death, but the getout is that they're all killed by the villains, and not by Diesel and his crew (Diesel is clearly heard urging them to draw the tank away from the people, Rodriguez does complain "this wasn't in the plan!").
That aside, and a pointless side mission for Paul Walker that does nothing but pad out the running time, Fast & Furious 6 is a hell of a lot of fun, certainly the best of the series, and it might even make it to the year's Top Ten! The jokes are good and I giggled pretty much throughout, especially through the two big chases. And stick to the end (just before the complete credits crawl) for the set up for Fast 7 that brilliantly ties up the loose timeline from Tokyo Drift while bringing in a new villain - a casting choice that's a stroke of pure genius. I'm salivating already: July 25, 2014 cannot come soon enough for me.