The storylines of the “Fast and Furious” franchise may be preposterous, but what’s even harder to believe is that, contrary to the history of just about every other multi-sequel series and what I thought were the laws of nature, these keep getting better. There’s something of a pattern at this point. Our happy gang of outlaw car racers gets into mischief of one kind and another in one movie, and then in the next the government asks them to take on some big bad guy in exchange for expunging their records. This being an even-numbered entry, it’s expunging time again as the gang, a Benneton ad of gorgeous and racially diverse people with a love for fast cars and a habitual narrow-eyed facial expression that either says, “Don’t even think of trying to mess with me” or maybe “I’m trying to remember which episode we’re on, but it probably doesn’t matter.” The talking part (I can’t bring myself to elevate it to the term “dialog”) is basic and repetitive. Anyone who’d like to liven it up with a drinking game will do very well going for either the word “family” or some variation of “that’s who we are.”
In the classic mode of motley crew of outsider stories from “The X-Men” and “The Avengers” to “The A-Team” and “The Bad News Bears,” the “Fast and Furious” movies are about a self-made family comprising people with a range of very special skills, including martial arts, weapons, tactics, interpersonal communications, technology, and banter. At the center are Dom (Vin Diesel) and his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), now blissfully married to Dom’s one-time nemesis-turned BFF, one-time cop-turned-outlaw Brian (Paul Walker). These guys are very, very good at making law enforcement go bad.
In the last episode, our gang took a lot of money from a very bad man. Now they’re enjoying their money in highly photogenic and conveniently extradition-free locations. But then another very bad guy (with an English accent, so we know he’s both smart and evil) is stealing the component parts to some very important something or other and must be stopped. He’s far to smart for Interpol, so it’s time to get the band back together.
But it’s really all about the stunts, and there are some lulus, expertly staged by returning director Justin Lin. There is so much going on at the same time that it gets a little confusing, but you can’t miss the wow moments . There are even a couple of OMGs and a did-I-just-see-that or two. The one thing about which there will be no suspense is who they’ll be facing in #7 — just stick around for the credits.
Parents should know that this film features non-stop action with chases, explosions, shooting and fights, characters in peril, injured and killed, some strong language including one crude epithet, and drinking.
Family discussion: Do you have a code? What is it? How do we decide who counts as family?
If you like this, try: The first five “Fast and Furious” movies and – to prepare for #7 – the “Transporter” series