IF YOU wanna catch the big boy criminals you gotta put on the big boy pants,” says one muscly man to another muscly man near the end of Fast and Furious 6. The pants referred to here are not actual pants. “Big boy pants” is actually a complex metaphor for hardiness, strength, an unwillingness to back down in the face of danger. Vin Diesel wears big boy pants: one moment he’s taking down a tank atop a 300ft bridge, the next he’s driving a car out of an exploding plane mid-takeoff.
His most impressive feat, however, is managing to look out of his depth in a movie so terrible. A wearer of big boy pants, perhaps, but at some point between the fifth and sixth installment, he lost the ability to speak. He sort of slurs and stutters his lines in the same slightly quizzical way children do when they’re learning to read. Dead syllable after dead syllable emanates from his thick neck without the faintest hint that these syllables constitute words with actual emotional or factual content. It’s like witnessing the rehabilitation of someone who has had a serious brain injury.
It says a lot that he is outperformed by someone named after a rock, an inanimate object that somehow seems more inanimate than most other inanimate objects. Dwayne Johnson (AKA The Rock) is right at home with all the silly theatrical violence; after all, he spent twenty years doing more or less the same thing as a wrestler. Come to think of it, the Fast and Furious films are probably pitched at the same audience as wrestling; young boys on the cusp of puberty and a smattering of dads who should know better. It’s easy to imagine the average Fast and Furious fan at Wrestlemania, cheering and sloshing his Budweiser as the Undertaker rearranges someone’s face with a piece of dining room furniture.
I know it’s customary to give a brief synopsis of the plot in a movie review, but there have been six of these now – you know the deal. It’s the movie equivalent of one of those motoring magazine covers with girls in tiny underwear on humongous bikes. Why is there a girl on the bike? I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. She just is. Why are they driving quickly along the road? I don’t know and it doesn't matter. They just are.