Fast & Furious 6

Back in February, The Atlantic posted an article about Academy Awards that should exist but don’t, and tops on its list was Best Stunts. BBC News agreed a day later.

I’ll not only second (or third) the emotion but offer up a pair of early front runners: Greg Powell and Spiro Razatos for Fast & Furious 6.

Their work as Stunt Coordinators on the latest in the franchise will not only repeatedly have you wondering “how’d they do that?”, but it also helps make the film one of the most enjoyable rides to hit theaters so far this year.

By all rights the franchise should have been left for dead back in 2006 (fans of the films still roll their eyes at the mention of the words “Tokyo” and “Drift”), but beginning with 2011’s Fast Five and now again with Fast & Furious 6, we have definitive proof that you can not only reboot a sagging franchise but also make highly entertaining movies about guys (and the occasional girl) driving fast cars.

Following the Rio heist in Fast Five, the gang has retired to various corners of the globe. Dom (Vin Diesel) is enjoying life in Spain when DSS Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) arrives tell Dom that his former (and supposedly dead) girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is helping orchestrate a series of terror attacks across Europe. Dom quickly gets the team back together to get Letty and stop any further attacks. (There’s a whole subplot about what’s motivating the attacks, but it’s more MacGuffin than anything else.)

Set mostly in London, Fast & Furious 6 is a non-stop adrenaline ride powered by full-throttle car chases, knock-down-drag-out fights, and even a healthy dose of comedy; it’s not an exaggeration to say it has more laugh-out-loud moments than The Hangover Part III.

Diesel and hit F&F compatriots Paul Walker, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, and Gal Gadot have fallen into a great rhythm together, and their chemistry is obvious; the movie feels like a happy homecoming that’s been given a nitrous boost.

It’s the stunts, though, that set Fast & Furious 6 miles apart from the competition. Often preposterous but never cartoonish, they’re among the most incredible ever put on film; the capper is a wild-and-crazy sequence set on a Spanish highway involving a tank, a convoy, and people flying through the air. “How’d they do that?” indeed.

Written by F&F stalwart Chris Morgan (whose Tokyo Drift is now sufficiently far behind him in the rearview mirror) and directed by Justin Lin (likewise), Fast & Furious 6 starts big and never lets up. And the jaw-dropping stinger during the credits will have you revved and ready for the seventh installment before you even leave the theater.

4/5 stars