Article By: Dan Clark
The Fast and Furious movies have undergone quite the transition in the last few years. When it began it was all about the larger than life underground street racing culture. Now it has morphed into high stakes heist films with crazy car aerobatics. This transition has no doubt been a healthy one. Many of the original detractors, like myself, have been won over by the sheer mindless joy these movies can bring. Things remain on a positive note with the latest installment Fast & Furious 6. Justin Lin continues to combine just the right amount of soup opera drama, over the top action, sleek style, and car porn heroics to make one fun summer movie. It is a film that never takes itself too seriously, and considering the subject matter we are thankful. Fast & Furious 6 doesn’t attempt to transcend its genre—it is content with bringing us along the same old ride many of us have come to enjoy.
The story picks up shortly after the events of Fast Five. Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker), and the rest of their crew are living large after their $100 million heist. However, the inability to return home and constantly looking over their shoulders are starting to take their toll. A possible ticket home emerges when their previous nemesis, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), seeks their help in taking out another group of highly organized drivers who have wreaked havoc across nearly all of Europe. Dom and Brian are at first hesitant, but when they discover their old fried Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who they thought was dead, is a driver in this team they decide to take the case. They round up their crew in a classic A-Team esc sequence and set out to take down this malicious squad of criminals.
One surprising aspect of Furious 6 is its dedication to story cannon. There’s a tremendous amount of call backs to previous films as it continues to build on its own lore. On the negative side it does make for an unnecessarily convoluted plot. There are moments like Paul Walker embarking on an undercover mission at a prison that ends up having no real point. Despite nowhere subplots like this one Lin does juggle this massive cast remarkably well. A lot of old faces like Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Sung Kang, and Jordana Brewster return to their familiar roles. What this cast lacks in acting talent they make up for in chemistry. Their joy for their characters and this franchise radiates off the screen. It’s like watching a group of old friends come together for one of their classic romps around town—just this romp involves espionage, high speed car chases, and your occasional tank.
Considering the massive cast it is impressive that nearly everyone gets an opportunity to have their moment, especially when you include the addition of all the new faces. Two notable additions are former MMA star turn action star actress Gina Crano and Johannes Taslim who burst on the scene last year due to his work in the The Raid: Redemption. They help divvy up the action so there is more than car chase after car chase. One standout moment is a vicious fight between Michelle Rodriquez and Crano. It was a great mismatch of Crano’s elite technique and Rodriquez’s survival instincts. The one person that did get lost in the shuffle was Luke Evans. He played Shaw, the leader of the opposing crew, and while his performance was fine he was never really developed into a solid character. Shaw was nothing more than a stereotypical bad guy who was seemingly always one step ahead over everyone. He was able to move the action along, but could not do much more than that.
Obviously when it comes to Furious 6 the key to its success lies within its action set pieces. As the films have grown older elements like logic and physics have quickly seeped away. Gravity has little bearing on the stunts they are capable of pulling off. Though having an issue with the unrealistic nature of this film’s action is like getting upset at technique of a stripper’s choreography—it’s is not really what you are there for. The key question is—do they replace gravity and logic with fun and interesting sequences? Yes…yes they do. Lin takes over the top and adds a slick edge to it. A crazy highway sequence involving a tank is perhaps the biggest standout. Watching this tank rampage through traffic like a hot knife through butter as a group of souped-up sports cars try to take it down was the epitome of crazy fun. The addition of Shaw’s flip cars also allowed for a number of unique and destructive crashes. Each set piece is different from the next as it never gets bogged down with repetition. Ironically the only time the action really doesn’t work is when it involves a car race. The execution of these races is rather derivate, and they appear to be nothing more than fan service.
Another issue is the inherit need to continuously one up itself. You’d think a tank would be the height of the craziness, but it is able to go one step further with incredible take down of a massive airplane. This sequence is full of pure joy; however you can’t help but wonder if the breaking point is not long off. Luckily we do get a small glimpse of this franchise’s possible future, and that glimpse will certainly send waves of positivity across its fandom.
Fast & Furious 6 delivers on what it promises. In no way will this change complete doubters into believers. If you enjoyed the amped up energy of Fast Five there is no reason why this installment should let you down. Yes the drama is stale, the acting is laughable at times, and the dialogue oozes cheese. Still, those issues are easy to overlook when you are moving at such high speeds of excitement. Usually when a franchise is in this stage of its career it has long over stayed its welcome. Fast & Furious 6 shows the best days might be here to stay.