*Some very mild spoilers ahead...be warned*
It's no secret that when a franchise gets a little long in the tooth (i.e. a fifth sequel), the quality gets to be....a little lacking (looking at you, Resident Evil). So the Fast series seriously comes as a pleasant surprise to me. It seems like, with the sixth entry, we're only just now really getting started. Fast Five was by far my favorite entry, which you NEVER hear about a fourth sequel (in fact, at the time of this post, Fast 6's 4-day box office total is $120,019,000 compared to Fast Five's $92,430,005 through the same amount of time). So I tried to keep my expectations in check sitting down for #6. What I found was a movie that's just plain FUN. Are there inconsistencies and miracles of physics that make its events pretty much impossible? Are there runways that magically extend for hundreds of miles like some sort of cosmic treadmill to allow for a 30 minute sequence of action??? OF COURSE. But if you're going in expecting a documentary on real life events, then you deserve to be miserable for 130 minutes.
What's good about this series is not the quality of acting. There won't be any Oscars handed out to this crew. But their chemistry is irresistible. You really get the feeling these folks enjoy working with one another, and aren't just there to cash a check. Check-cashing is usually all ANYONE is around for by the time a fifth entry hits (looking at you, Die Hard. Can't wait for Die Hard VI: Die Dammit, Die! coming 2016 to a theatre near you). What I also love about the Fast films is their ability to bring in new characters. The addition of Dwayne Johnson to #5 was probably the best move the franchise could've made. He could probably make an hour and a half of reading the phone book on camera seem fun and b.a. The addition of MMA Amazon Warrior Goddess Gina Carano was another amazing choice. When she's in a fight scene, you cannot take your eyes off the screen. If you haven't seen her in Haywire, stop reading now and take care of that. Go ahead. I'll wait.
Wasn't that INSANE???? Even if the movie itself was a little lacking, watching her absolutely demolish people never gets old. Right, so moving on!
Another high point of #6 is its pacing. The filmmakers did an extraordinary job of keeping the events rolling, without huge sections of lag. A very common mistake is to OVER compensate and assault the audience's senses to avoid the appearance of lag. 2004's Van Helsing is an EXCELLENT example of this. I was downright exhausted by the end, because it was just too busy. This movie has a lot going on, but it's stretched out nicely. I loved the Mission: Impossible-esque teamwork element it has going. All the characters have their own little side mission to do, and you get to see how each one impacts the overall objective as it goes along.
As for the drawbacks.... A major element of the plot involves amnesia. Yep, that old cinematic chestnut that never seems to go away. I understand they had to find a way to work that character back in, but I just wish it could've been done in a different way. That's a minor gripe, though. Also, the villain seemed a little two-dimensional, taking a backseat (no pun intended...it IS a car movie, after all) to the action. Finally, you'll be hard pressed to give a fig about the cyber-warfare MacGuffin that the ENTIRE film revolves around. I'm still not sure I'm entirely clear as to what all it does. Kinda sounds like a mix between the titular GoldenEye weapon and the Rabbit's Foot from Mission: Impossible III (whatever the heck THAT thing was). Oh well. If you can't approach a movie like this with a little extra suspension of disbelief, again, you probably won't enjoy it.
The bottom line is, Fast 6 is a perfect example of a summer spectacle. Go in, sit down, laugh, oo and ahh, and just have a good time. Don't take things too seriously, and don't wonder what a fall from x height would do to a human body or a car's suspension. Even if you're unfamiliar with the series so far, you won't have a single problem rolling in and feeling like an old pro by the end. It's loud, flashy, colorful fun.
P.S. There's rumor of a Hobbs movie...bring it!