Now the criminal gang of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) have split up after their last big raid, they have settled in various regions of the globe, aware they can never return home when the law are still after them. Dom and his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), along with her boyfriend Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker), Dom's rival turned friend, are now in Brazil where she has recently given birth to their first child. But Dom, though with a new girlfriend in Elena (Elsa Pataky), still pines for his ex, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who he believed died some time ago - what he doesn't know is that she is alive and well, and part of a different gang who have pulled off a daring heist and are now headed to London...
If that isn't the magic of the movies I don't know what is: Michelle Rodriguez, so often the victim of getting bumped off in her action flick roles, was decisively given a second chance in the one franchise you couldn't have predicted she would be brought back to, and how nice it was to see her since she fitted this sort of nonsense like a glove. A boxing glove, perhaps, as she went head to head, or fist to fist, with expert fighter Gina Carano and more than held her own; whether that was down to fast cutting in the editing room was a moot point, here was one series which acknowledged a multicultural and gender literate need for as many types of character to be recognised within the boundaries of a 21st Century action hit.
And that included the sexuality side of things too, for as we knew from watching the previous entries this family theme was pretty much extended to Dom being the dad and Brian being the mum, with all sorts of siblings and aunties and uncles and now offspring (you fully expected to see the baby driving a car in the next instalment, not grown up, as an actual baby). Although what would any great soap opera be without a love triangle? So here was Dwayne Johnson returning to rival the sexual chemistry between Diesel and Walker with his own lawman Hobbs and Toretto as they spend time not cracking heads exploiting the tension crackling between one another in a meaningful fashion.
Oh, sure, Dom wants Letty back and there's the odd scene here between Vin and Michelle which is surprisingly sweet for such a macho movie, but it was really these three manly men who were at the beating heart of the drama, so when Luke Evans shows up leading basically the dark side of the Toretto gang, underlined when he is English and we know what they're like in Hollywood action movies, even if they're Jason Statham sometimes (hmm...), the stage is set for dramatically unbalanced rivalry. This is even pointed out by one of the goodies, Tyrese Gibson as Roman (taking the heavy lifting of the comic relief), so you can tell it was a conscious decision, though more than anything else it appeared to prompt the Fast & Furious franchise to attempt rivalling the James Bond behemoth, mostly by taking its cast globetrotting for those big, splashy setpieces.
There were even a couple of Bond gags recreated for Furious 6 - the Caroline Munro wink from The Spy Who Loved Me and the tank bursting cars like bubbles from Goldeneye - to emphasise what Lin and company were aiming for. In spite of a lengthy amount of the running time spent in London, Dom and his team, brought in by Hobbs, don't meet anyone particularly nice there among the locals which was a bit ungrateful though the fact they believed British bobbies routinely carried machine guns was a mark of how much research they had done. Spain was also visited for that tank sequence where Dom fulfils his destiny and becomes a superhero with the power to fly unaided, though it was the grand finale which had audiences talking, mostly saying, what is this runway, fifty miles long or something? Yet for all its absurdity, the way it embraced that had made the series oddly endearing, especially as the years had gone by, and if they were tonally as light as a feather you were pleased to watch them get into scrapes nothing short of Ludacris. Er, ludicrous. Music by Lucas Vidal.