Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson and Michelle Rodriguez lead a cast of returning all-stars as the global blockbuster franchise built on speed delivers the biggest adrenaline rush yet. Hobbs (Johnson) has been tracking an organization of lethally skilled drivers, whose mastermind (Luke Evans) is aided by the love Dom (Diesel) thought was dead, Letty (Rodriguez). The only way to stop the criminal mercenaries from stealing a top secret weapon is to outmatch them at street level, so Hobbs asks for the help of Dom and his elite team. Payment for the ultimate chase? Full pardons for all of them and a chance to make their families whole again.
Few movie franchises can match the cheerfully improbable rise of the Fast & Furious series, which has escalated from humble B-movie beginnings to genuine gotta-see-to-believe blockbuster status. (For clarity's sake, it should be noted that in this case, "humble" means a film where the camera routinely swooped through a car's exhaust manifold.) This sixth installment may take a while to match the cruising speed of its immediate predecessor (the awesomely overstuffed Fast Five) but once it does, look out. Picking up more or less where the last one left off, the story finds the gang of Wacky Racers living off of the grid and enjoying the good life. Quiet Time comes to a halt, however, with the arrival of Federal Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), who needs their help in stopping an elite team of London mercenaries. Everything that can possibly collide and/or explode, does. Director Justin Lin, who has been handling the series since 2006's Tokyo Drift, goes all out this time around, bringing back old cast members, reinforcing the endearingly corny ties between the characters--just try and count the number of times Vin Diesel growls "family"--and adding Haywire's Gina Carano to increase the already copious bruising ratio. While such an attempt at delighting the longtime fans is admirable, the attention paid to the large roster may baffle viewers not up on their series mythology, particularly during the rather slow first act. Things correct themselves fiercely at the midpoint, though, when a tank hits the freeway in a sequence that should, by all rights, be impossible to top. Lin and Co. somehow manage to crank up the volume even further, however, with a finale involving an exceedingly large plane, the world's largest runway, and a fleet of cars sporting grappling hooks. If all that wasn't already enough, stick around for the closing credits, which suggests that the filmmakers have found a way to up the ante for the next sequel. You know that old saying about how less is more? Yeah, that's totally not the case here. --Andrew Wright