The most surprising moment in Fast & Furious 6 comes when someone mentions Moby Dick. The notion that anyone involved in this sequel has ever read a book, or even a BookRags synopsis of one, is quite earth-shattering.
But then there are numerous Melville-esque harpoonings in this whale of an annoyance directed by Justin Lin, a young man who exhibited promise early in his career (Better Luck Tomorrow) and has since gone on to directing SAG members who can't act or enunciate, delivering lines from screenplays that are incomprehensible hodgepodges of inane excuses to drive souped-up Tin Lizzies fast, and who beat up or get beaten up by villains who have as much personality as washing machine lint.
Another revelation is that Vin Diesel -- Hollywood's bemuscled cardboard take on the star of those Mr. Clean ads, any of which are more memorable than the offerings of this putrescent series -- shaves his underarms. Since nothing of note occurs on screen for an hour after Mr. Diesel exposes his armpits in an early bed scene, I was able to ponder this phenomenon with full concentration. For example, Alan Cumming, an openly gay actor in his underrated directorial debut, The Anniversary Party (2001), boasted extremely hirsute armpits. So is Mr. Diesel, who's a walking infomercial for a sort of tongue-tied, brain-dead sort of heterosexuality, starting a trend? Does this mean straight men in the street, like Mr. Universes onstage, will all start cropping their armpits just as numerous gents have already begun trimming their pubic regions to please the Cosmopolitan readers they're dating?
Anyway, my train of sociological thoughts was suddenly sent off-track by a cacophony more clamorous than the rest of the din on the soundtrack. I looked up. A grave error on my part.
There was a "plot."
The F&F characters, now rich from their doings in F&F 5, are all settled down until Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) shows up with photos proving that the thought-to-be-deceased Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is still alive. Dom (Diesel), who loved her, and his brood, all come out of retirement to rescue the only one in the cast who can act, and to break up a gang that needs a computer chip for a weapon that will turn off the electricity somewhere, causing millions of deaths and the inability to watch Family Feud.
To tell this tale, Lin has staged numerous car chases ad nauseam, but because of the dreadful snip-snip-snip editing by Christian Wagner and Kelly Matsumoto, it's nearly impossible to figure out who's in what car. And when there are fisticuffs, the cuts are so quick and random and so intercut with other battles simultaneously occurring, there's no way to figure out who's pummeling whom. A figure on the left is now on the right, then in the back, now on the floor, and then suddenly in the air. There's no way to develop any empathy for any of these carryings-on because they are all so faceless.
All of which causes me to brazenly amend a Woody Allen quote, "In Beverly Hills...they don't throw their garbage away. They make it into Fast & Furious sequels." - Brandon Judell
Mr. Judell is currently teaching "Queer Theatre" and "Gay and Lesbian Identity in Literature" at The City College of New York and is Coordinator of The Simon H. Rifkind Center. He has written on film for The Village Voice,indieWire.com, the New York Daily News, Soho Style, and The Advocate,and is anthologized in Cynthia Fuchs's Spike Lee Interviews (University Press of Mississippi) and John Preston's A Member of the Family (Dutton). He is also a member of the performance/writing group FlashPoint.