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Photoby Giles Keyte - © 2013 Universal Studios

Apparently I’ve been misreading the success of this series. I thought it was all about street racing, muscle cars, and eye-popping stunts. But, as I learned from the latest installment, it’s really about “family.” I know this because the characters told me so, over and over again. They also say, on far too many occasions, “It’s what we do.” What they do is street race, drive muscle cars, and perform eye-popping stunts, but that’s beside the point.

There is comfort in familiarity, which is why having original cast members Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker, and Jordana Brewster back together from the first movie, made in 2001, is a definite asset, along with other colorful characters who have joined the series along the way including Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, and Elsa Pataky. Joining them this time around are Luke Evans, who’s somewhat miscast as a steely-eyed villain, and MMA specialist Gina Carano, which opens the door for some intense hand-to-hand combat, including a wild girlfight in a London underground station with Rodriguez.

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Photo by Giles Keyte - © 2013 Universal Studios

There’s little point in debating the story construction or internal logic of Chris Morgan’s screenplay—not to mention some opportunities lost to sloppy writing—but I will confess my disappointment in the movie’s use of CGI to enhance some of the large-scale stunt sequences. When you know you’re watching real drivers handle real cars, movies like this put you on the edge of your seat; that’s a big part of their appeal. The minute you sense some visual trickery at work, it becomes make-believe. There are a few too many moments like that in Fast & Furious 6 to suit me.

For undiscriminating action junkies, I suppose Fast & Furious 6 delivers the goods. I just wish it were a better film.