(Universal Pictures)
Coulda sworn this series ended 12 years ago…
(Universal Pictures)

Justin Lin’s Fast & Furious 6, the latest chapter in the improbably resilient cars and criminals saga, is an absolute mess.  Comprised of blockhead characters played by limited performers reciting ridiculously bad one-liners and absolutely bombing at humor, it’s a frustrating 2+ hours.  Not that fine acting is the prime attraction for these films, but with an ADD editing style that nearly renders its ambitious action sequences incoherent, there’s precious little draw beyond the requisite souped-up automobiles.

 (Universal Pictures)
No gain, only pain.
(Universal Pictures)

Per franchise standards, we once again get Vin Diesel doling out his gruff nuggets of wisdom as ringleader Dom with charisma-free Paul Walker as his second-in-command/brother-in-law Brian.  Recruited by Fast Five rival DSS Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and new partner Agent Riley (Haywire‘s Gina Carano, sadly cardboard without Steven Soderbergh guiding her), Dom pulls his globally-scattered crew back together to help take down what’s essentially a bizarro British version of themselves, headed by Owen Shaw (Luke Evans).  Promised full pardons so that the fugitives may return safely to the U.S., Dom is further drawn in by the appearance of his presumed dead love Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), conveniently alive, suffering from amnesia, and in Shaw’s crew.

 (Universal Pictures)
Right before Rodriguez yells, “Screw you!” like Schwarzenegger in Total Recall.
(Universal Pictures)

As the racers speed around London and trade moronic verbal and physical jabs, adventures abound yet grow tedious due to the cast’s rigidity and stunning lack of appeal.  Any film reliant upon the likes of Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris for its charms is destined to fail, yet the degree of cluelessness on display extends beyond its cast’s shortcomings.  Adding to the eyeball-rolling are multiple Superman leaps from speeding vehicles onto enemy autos or pavement, from which characters emerge remarkably unscathed.  With such disregard for gravity and common sense yet otherwise firmly glued to the modern world, Fast & Furious 6 makes its own nutso rules and alienates viewers in the process.

 (Universal Pictures)
Just another day on the road.
(Universal Pictures)

Operating alone in such a numbskull bubble, it therefore makes sense for the concluding high-octane act to misfire in new and creative ways.  Though collateral damage in action films are typically invisible, when a tank crushes numerous civilian cars that clearly still have humans inside as if they were mere debris, the casualties stand out far more than they should in a PG-13 popcorn flick.  Then, following a finale on a runway longer than LAX, LaGuardia, and O’Hare combined, when the film appears to have reached rock bottom dumbness, up jumps an action star arguably most capable of further lowering the saga’s IQ and sets up a seventh (?!?!?) installment.  For fans of such brainless macho extremism, the pairing is the very definition of bliss.  For others, the prospect is downright apocalyptic.

Grade: D

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action and mayhem throughout, some sexuality and language.

Fast & Furious 6 is currently playing at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Rd.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKi5XoeTN0k]

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