Who would ever have thought that when Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto first educated us about the similarities between inches and miles that we’d still be here, 5 sequels and just under $2 billion later? Somewhere along the line though, the Fast and Furious franchise stopped being about just hot cars and hotter women, and we got ourselves a bona fide action thriller series, culminating in the Ocean’s Eleven with musclecars, 2011 critical and box office smash hit, Fast Five.
With that heritage, Fast & Furious 6 certainly has a lot to live up to, and attempts to do so by taking a cue from virtually every race the franchise has ever featured: Just downshift, hit the accelerator and let the NOS slam you back into your seat, consequences be damned.
This chapter finds Diesel’s Toretto – who clearly gargles with gravel and pool acid – and Paul Walker’s new to fatherhood Brian O’Connel, living the good life in the Canary Islands thanks to that $100 million they knocked off in Rio De Janeiro on their last cinematic jaunt. It’s all sea breezes and sangrias for the wanted wheelmen until human tank Dwayne Johnson’s Agent Luke Hobbs comes stomping back into their lives with a favour to ask and a deal to make. Seems ex-special forces man Owen Shaw has been a naughty boy, and he and his go-karts-on-steroids driving crew have been stealing military hardware to build themselves a mumbo jumbo bomb.
Hobbs need Dom and Brian to assemble their own “family” to help him stop Shaw, and in return he’ll get them full pardons. And in an infomercial-esque “But wait! There’s more!” it turns out that Dom’s old squeeze, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), has seemingly recuperated from her acute case of death, and is now running with the bad guys. Ooh, plot twist.
Now at this stage of the game, you’re either a fan of the franchise or you’re not, and if you fall into the latter camp, well then this will most definitely not be the movie to change your mind. Franchise runner Justin Lin, who’s been behind the directing wheel since the twisty-turny (literally) Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift knows what fans want to see from these movies – crazy vehicular action set pieces and Vin Diesel brooding topless, with a sprinkling of scantily clad females getting out of sports cars in slow motion – and delivers just that. While it’s true that none of the cast, including MMA fighter turned actress and franchise newcomer Gina Carano, are deviating from the tried and tested formula of punching big and acting meh, like I said, thespian skills are probably not why you’ll be handing over your money for a ticket on this rollercoaster ride.
And trust me, it’s quite the ride.
Lin and writer Chris Morgan take such things such as character development, logic, hell even the laws governing time and space, and promptly toss them out on their boringly realistic keisters to make room for spectacles so over the top that that they’re busy rolling down the other side. Men and women fly through the air with superheroic abandon, characters teleport from one side of the planet to the other in the blink of an eye and at one stage there’s an extracted action sequence that takes place entirely in, on and underneath a massive cargo plane that’s interminably taxiing at full throttle on what can only be described as the longest runway this universe has ever seen.
But even with all this thumbing of the nose to the laws of physics, Lin and co never lose sight of this film’s main intention: To entertain. The numerous set pieces are massively scoped and inventive (any of the film’s sequences would easily be big enough to be any other film’s climactic finale), breathlessly shot and most importantly, fun. You may be rolling your eyes at some of the more absurd antics, but that eye rolling will almost always be accompanied by a massive grin on your face. And even when the action moves out from behind the wheel to a pair of extended hand to hand fight sequences that sees Carano and The Raid: Redemption star Joe Taslim show off their pugilistic prowess, Lin nonetheless infuses the scene with an adrenalizing combination of brutal fight choreography and outstanding comic timing.
Fast & Furious 6 is certainly not as clever, nor as well paced as the Fast Five, the pinnacle of the series thus far, and it’s definitely not going to win over any past detractors. But if you’re in the mood to put your brain in neutral while your eyes and ears redline, then this is the movie for you.
And judging by the little mid-credits teaser, which I advise you to hang around for as it rather cleverly ties together plot threads from all of Lin’s Fast and Furious movies, the next installment will probably be rapidly joining that club in a cloud of burnt rubber.
Last Updated: May 30, 2013