Fast & Furious 6

A riotous explosion of ridiculous stunts, insane punch-ups (think flying headbutts), and comedy both intentional and otherwise.

Released in cinemas 17th May 2013.

Disclaimer: This review is from someone who until this week had never seen a Fast & Furious film, and more importantly, never really wanted to. Interest was piqued after the rave reviews last year’s Fast Five received, which was said to revitalise the franchise, and now this outsider can confirm what glorious dumb fun F&F6 is.

Number six, the fourth to be directed by Justin Lin, does a great job of introducing the professional criminals and street racers to newbies, and the chemistry and camaraderie of the team bounces off the screen. With the gang in exile, O’Connor (Paul Walker) has settled down to family life with Mia (Jordana Brewster), team leader Toretto (Vin Diesel) is romantically involved with Elena (Elsa Pataky), and the others are living the big life following the events of Fast Five. A favourite from the last film, Dwayne Johnson returns as Agent Hobbs to make the team an offer they can’t refuse, and when he comes with MMA star turned actress Gina Carano in tow as his new sidekick Riley, you know you’re in for some formidable fun.

Hobbs is tracking former SAS officer Owen Shaw (Luke Evans, strangely underused), responsible for an audacious attack on a Russian military convoy. Cue some plot McGuffin so inconsequential, by the end of the film you find yourself forgetting what this precious chip is for. Lured in by photo evidence of his presumed-dead lover Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) still being alive, Toretto negotiates a US pardon, and the team set off on an international adventure.

A riotous explosion of ridiculous stunts, insane punch-ups (think flying headbutts), and comedy both intentional and otherwise, Fast & Furious 6 is a blast. At over two hours, it’s a good half hour too long for such nonsense, and some of the action is so chaotic it’s hard to follow, and any criticism of the script and performances would be churlish at this point - although fans may feel cheated over some of the emotionally dramatic turns. The homoeroticism is off the scale, Johnson’s physical presence is almost absurd, and Lin knows it. The highlight is Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris stealing the film completely with their hilarious banter and shenanigans - imagine what happens when they turn up at a luxury car sale in London.

Talking of London, Britons will be clutching their armrests as two characters race through the crowded Piccadilly Circus with no regard for pedestrians. While the ‘disapproving’ hat is still on, for a film about driving there’s an awful lot of beer-drinking going on (with some unsubtle product placement). Tutting over, it’s hard to take things too seriously when a tank is shown hurtling down a Spanish freeway at about 100mph in one of the film’s more utterly ridiculous and cheer-inducing sequences (wait ‘til you get to the plane).

Outside of the cars, The Raid actor and martial artist Joe Taslim gets a brilliantly choreographed sequence on the London Underground as one of Shaw’s villains, and Carano gets to show off her fighting skills opposite an impressive Rodriguez in a wince-inducing fight, also on the tube. One thing must be pointed out - for a franchise that has the bikini-clad bottoms of faceless models in the foreground of every other scene, as a reviewer constantly on sexism-watch, alarms didn’t go off at all. This is thanks to Rodriguez, Brewster, Carano and Gal Gadot playing such strong characters without their gender being an issue - within the framework of the team, everyone is equal.

One to watch with beer and mates, keep seated for a credits sting that will take the roof off, and sets the next film up nicely. This F&F convert will definitely be back for number seven.

Rating: 7/10