Fast & Furious 6

Rating: With this film, The Rock has appeared in five separate movies in 2013. Did I really die following my accident in 2011, only to be condemned to hell and no one told me?

Fast and Furious 6As foolish as this is to admit, Fast & Furious 6 works against all conceivable odds. What appears on its face to be little more than mindless drivel connects all of its cascading artistic dots that results in a film both funny and entertaining.

Quite frankly, the secret behind the box office success of the most recent Fast & Furious sequel is that it exploits its weaknesses. Unless you’ve seen him in Sidney Lumet’s enthralling Find Me Guilty (2006), you would swear that Vin Diesel has no acting talent of any kind. However, let him dedicate both life and limb to saving an old lover from ruin, here played again by Michelle Rodriguez, and you can’t help but root for him.

While Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson looks like he has consumed every ounce of anabolic steroids that escaped Lance Armstrong’s greedy reach, who cannot embrace him when several of his colleagues continually make fun of his arrival by yelling, “I smell baby oil.” Who cares that he continually appears in nothing more than a tight black T-shirt and has more wrinkles in the back of his neck than the total number of actresses working in Hollywood today? As an officer of the law, he may be dedicated to doing little more than catching and killing notorious villains, but he sure is a nice guy.

Though this film is largely about love, laughter, luscious babes and incredibly fast cars, you are continually surprised by emotional twists that reach up and grab you. Paul Walker appears again as Ryan, a man torn from his peaceful life off the Spanish Coast with his wife and small child by the need to help an old friend make peace with his troubled past. Both Tyrese Gibson as Roman and Chris “Ludicris” Bridges as Tej are a treat to watch with their humorous exchanges in the most desperate of encounters. In particular, watch for Hobbs’ (The Rock) dismissive cuts of Roman with the accusation that he has the world’s largest forehead.

In addition, there are some great fight scenes, particularly between Ms. Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster. It borders on a work of physical art. It’s like watching ballerinas in costume kicking the crap out of each other with high-flying artistic moves.

And oh yes, did I mention the special effects? Sure, there are some that are petrifyingly absurd, namely those with individuals flying through the air only to land successfully on moving vehicles. Yet who cannot enjoy watching a tank destroy various cars on an English highway, not to mention a large airplane carrying villains that is forced to crash during a takeoff because of the skill our heroes use while driving in cars underneath it.

Fast & Furious 6 embraces silliness, excess and visual absurdity, only to find a way to combine it into a demented yet workable cinematic stew. The cinematography by Stephen F. Windon paints a picturesque backdrop as it follows our motley crew from Spain to London after a brief stop in Russia. How could something this tormented be this pretty?

And for those who may wonder if there is a forthcoming Fast and Furious 7, watch the little trailer at the end and you will get an answer that is not likely to surprise you.