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Article updated: 5/23/2013 9:59 AM

'Fast & Furious 6' a funny, live-action cartoon on steroids

By Dann Gire

The acting could curdle milk.

The dialogue could etch glass.

So what else is new? It's another "Fast & Furious"!

Justin Lin's sixth entry in Universal Pictures' lucrative franchise ($1.5 BILLION and counting) doesn't appear to be remotely interested in those elements. It wants to constantly astonish us with spectacularly absurd stunts, flash-edited fight sequences, pulse-pounding car chases and demolition smash-ups that make "The Blues Brothers" look lethargic.

Don't call "Fast & Furious 6" a regular action movie. It's a 15-year-old boy's ultimate live-action version of a Roadrunner/Wile E. Coyote cartoon driven by muscle cars, steroidal muscle guys, muscle girls and a Victoria's Secret-esque music-video shoot tossed in for extra testosterone teasing.

Speaking of car metaphors, park your expectations of common sense and realism at the theater door. You won't need them.

This movie out-Bonds even the most outrageously silly 007 adventure.

Take the scene in which Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is falling to her death on a freeway, and Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) bullets through the air like Superman, intercepts Letty in midair and they both go crashing into the windshield of a speeding automobile below. Dom and Letty don't even suffer a scratch.

"How did you know the car would break our fall?" Letty asks.

What? Smashing into a speeding car broke their fall?

Why didn't it break their bones?

Then, just when you think they've gone about as far as they can go, Lin, working from an alleged screenplay by Chris Morgan, sets out to top each successively implausible situation, climaxing with a thunderous takeoff of a military getaway plane that conveniently barrels down the only 75-mile airport runway in the world, so the good guys have plenty of time to stop it.

Having pointed out all this large-scale nuttiness, I must also acknowledge that "Fast & Furious 6" is a brainlessly engaging motion picture that works as a hilariously funny live-action cartoon, but not a particularly well-made one.

Numerous fight sequences have been edited so fast and furiously that they numb our senses and we sometimes can't tell what's going on.

Same thing with the frequent car chases and smash-ups. They become endless set pieces that lose power the longer they play.

Oops. I almost forgot to mention the plot, just like this movie almost did.

Shaw (Luke Evans), another one of those British mercenary terrorists modeled after Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber in "Die Hard," gains possession of a device that will bring world powers to their knees.

Super cop Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and his new sidekick Riley ("Haywire" martial arts sensation Gina Carano) contact Dom with a deal he can't refuse: Stop Shaw and there will be pardons for everyone he's ever worked with.

To save the world, Dom reassembles his old crew, now rich and hiding out from American authorities. They include Brian O'Conner (the boring Paul Walker) who's a new daddy with his wife Mia (Jordana Brewster), smart-cracking Roman (Tyrese Gibson), techno-whiz Tej (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) and lovebirds Han and Gisele (Sung Kang and Gal Gadot).

If you're a "Fast & Furious" fan, you're probably wondering how could Letty be in this movie. She's supposed to be dead! Killed in a fiery car crash!

She's magically back and working with Shaw to conquer the world. But it's OK, because she suffers from amnesia. She can't remember anything from the five earlier "Fast & Furious" films or that she has a thing for Dom.

So Dom can't take it personally when Letty shoots him.

At times, "Fast & Furious 6" devolves into an Abrahams/Zucker action movie parody like "Airplane" with snappy comebacks and funny asides.

Other times, it just devolves.

Non-spoiler alert! Stick around during the closing credits to witness a shocking turn-of-events for one of the main characters, plus the introduction of a key villain for "Fast & Furious 7," already scheduled for release next July.

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