Furious 6

Near the beginning of “Furious 6,” upon viewing a crime scene that involved a great deal of vehicular mayhem, FBI agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) says, “There’s only one crew in the world that could get this done.” The punchline is that he’s not talking about the Fast and/or Furious team of Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and friends, but about another group of automotive-based criminals. In fact, he’s going to need the assistance and expertise of the Fast and/or Furious crew to capture these villains.

Having subverted our expectations this once, the rest of “Furious 6” is basically what you think it’s going to be if you’ve seen the other films in the series, especially its immediate predecessor, “Fast 5.” Again directed by proficient visualist Justin Lin and written by Chris Morgan to include as much witless macho posturing as possible, “Furious 6” has Dominic (Diesel), Brian (Walker), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Han (Sung Kang), and Tej (Chris Ludacris Bridges) cooperating with Hobbs and his new partner, the butt-kicking femme Riley (Gina Carano), to stop the evil Shaw (Luke Evans) from obtaining a dangerous weapon. Shaw and his friends use cars to do everything, and you know what they say: fight cars with cars.

Oh, and remember Letty? Maybe not by name. Michelle Rodriguez? She was Vin Diesel’s girlfriend until she got killed in Part [fill this in later after looking up which movie she got killed in]. Well, we learned at the very end of “Fast 5” that she was alive after all, and in “Furious 6” she is still alive but she has amnesia (!) and may have turned to the dark side.

Despite touches like this, in which the franchise has been turned into a high-octane soap opera complete with plot points in previous episodes retrofitted to mesh with new ones, the real reason to watch is the action stuff. “Furious 6” delivers its share of spectacular death-, gravity-, and logic-defying stunt sequences, including a centerpiece on a bridge that builds to a marvelously unlikely climax, and a finale involving a giant airplane, a lot of cars, and the world’s longest runway. That so much of the action ranges from the implausible to the literally impossible doesn’t matter (much) when it’s presented with energy and commitment, and without shaky cameras or chaotic editing. I don’t begrudge a movie its over-the-top action.

I do wish the 45 minutes of thrilling car shenanigans weren’t spread out of 130 minutes of movie. I know there are people who feel emotionally invested in these characters, and more power to ’em, but almost everything that happens outside of an automobile comes across as pretty dumb to me. The movie is shiny trash — which isn’t to say it’s bad; it’s too infectiously enthusiastic about its silliness to be bad. But if a coherent story with good dialogue could be constructed around the auto porn, well, then we’d really have something.

C (2 hrs., 10 min.; PG-13, moderate profanity including one F-word, lots of action violence.)