Full of gimmickry and Vin Diesel's testosterone, 2001's The Fast and the Furious started out as a throwaway action pic about street racing. It wasn't franchise material. Different characters took over for its sequel, 2006's Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.
Then director Justin Lin brought back the old gang for 2009's Fast & Furious and assembled an all-star team from all of the films for 2011's Fast Five. The series became a preposterous collection of stunt-filled set pieces. That preposterousness is part of its appeal.
So there's no point in picking apart the script of Fast & Furious 6. The gang reunite after the big heist that turned them all into international fugitives. But law-enforcement tough guy Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) wants Dom (Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker) and company to help take down an international terrorist (Luke Evans), and he has got just the bait to convince them: a recent photo of Dom's beloved, supposedly dead Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). If they catch the terrorist, they'll all be forgiven.
The unrepentant melodrama of Fast & Furious 6 has a weird sort of charm. Brian has a new baby to worry about. Dom gets a sensitive reunion with Letty, who is suffering from amnesia. It's not just vroom-vroom-kaboom. It's personal.
But the vroom-vroom-kaboom is an essential part of this type of film. Fast & Furious 6 delivers in that department, but not as much as you might expect. New cast member Gina Carano, who plays Hobbs' rookie partner, is terrific in a battle with Rodriguez that's more like a lion brawl than a catfight. And an over-the-top scenario drives one of the big centerpiece sequences, which involves the villain and his tank being chased down a freeway. Lin understands the kind of crazy junk his audience wants to see.
What he doesn't understand is how to make it look good. He fails to put the action sequences together in a way that makes sense. Too much of Fast & Furious 6 suffers from inept editing, most notably in the climactic pursuit involving a massive cargo plane and the longest runway ever. Lin's got stuff going on in four or five different places at once but can't focus on any one of them. The result is a pudding of befuddling two-second shots we're expected to find exciting since there's a car driving out of burning wreckage at the end.
Fast & Furious 6 concludes with a teaser for part seven that's likely to bring the house down. Maybe there is reason to be optimistic about the next chapter: Lin has announced that he won't be directing it.