FAST & FURIOUS 6 (12A)
Action/Thriller/Romance. Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Luke Evans, Gina Carano, Tyrese Gibson, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Jordana Brewster. Director: Justin Lin.
Blockbuster sequels are not judged on directorial verve, ingenious plots or award-winning performances, although they certainly help.
The barometer of success for any follow-up is the ker-ching of box office tills.
With the exception of The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift, which foolishly traded in the reliable pairing of Vin Diesel and Paul Walker for younger models, takings for successive offerings in the turbo-charged franchise have steadily increased, roaring to $626million for Fast & Furious 5.
Director Justin Lin buckles up once again for this testosterone-fuelled burnout, upping the action ante with a runaway armoured tank and a climactic battle inside a gargantuan Russian airplane.
Bigger isn’t always better and there are only so many times one of the heroes can emerge from twisted metal with barely a cut before our excitement down-shifts to neutral.
At the end of Fast & Furious 5, Dominic Toretto (Diesel) learnt that old flame Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) was alive; she somehow survived the fireball that supposedly killed her but lost her memory and is now the henchwoman of British criminal mastermind, Owen Shaw (Luke Evans).
Tenacious federal agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and his new partner, Riley (Gina Carano), offer to expunge Dom and Brian’s criminal records in exchange for capturing Shaw. Rubber burns as Dom, Brian and their usual crew head to London to put a handbrake on Shaw’s plans.
Fast & Furious 6 isn’t as satisfying as the previous chapter and the plot springs a puncture in the middle third but Lin puts the pedal to the metal in the set pieces.
Diesel and Walker can play their roles in their sleep, and the lack of expression on the former’s face suggests he might be, while Carano is a ballsy new addition, enjoying a bruising fistfight with Rodriguez in the crowded tunnels of London Underground.
Evans is ineffectual but the script woefully short-changes him and the big showdown with Diesel that should crackle with tension is an anti-climax.
An explosive epilogue introduces a swaggering new arch-nemesis, who starts as he/she means to go on with a cold-blooded assassination.
The engine is already purring for Fast & Furious 7, directed by James Wan, who helmed the first chapter of the Saw films. Expect to choke on exhaust fumes in July 2014.