Director: Justin Lin
Writer: Chris Morgan
Stars: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez
Release date: May 34th, 2013
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Countries: USA, Spain
Running time: 130 minutes
Best part: The kick-ass action sequences.
Worst part: The painfully unfunny one-liners.
The Fast and Furious franchise is a baffling and impressive creation. It’s notoriously known to be an example of Hollywood’s apparent lack of care and commitment. I believe this presupposition is a little unfair. Despite its flaws, it has always committed to its goal of being pure escapist entertainment. This series is like a good wine- it gets better with age. Fast and Furious 6 (labelled Furious 6 in the opening credits) is, so far, the most enthralling and inspired instalment.
This instalment is a sprawling, occasionally messy, and light-hearted action flick. The film kicks into gear immediately and never stalls. The story, such as it is, is as predictable as death and taxes (two things that this series’ characters have avoided at all costs). After the cataclysmic events of Fast Five, former street racer, turned career criminal, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is embracing his financial and spiritual riches. His life of luxury, with girlfriend Elena (Elsa Pataky), is made whole by his best friend Brian (Paul Walker), Brian’s wife/Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and their new-born child. However, his life takes a turn for the weird when Diplomatic Security Service Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) asks Dom, and his rag-tag team of professional criminals, to help him. Hobbs’ bargaining chip is a week-old picture of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) – Dom’s former girlfriend, whom was believed to have been killed in a previous instalment. The team, also featuring Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges), Giselle (Gal Gadot), Han (Sung Kang), and Riley (Gina Carano), go after notorious criminal Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) and his own team. However, this mission will prove, to everyone involved, that trust can be a person’s biggest weakness.
From its ‘humble’ beginnings to now, the Fast and Furious franchise has become a suped-up soap opera with its own convoluted mythology. This series has been more productive than most people realise. Not only has it carried on for over a decade, but it has inspired an entire generation of youths to customise their cars and abrasively rev their engines at every hottie walking by. If you are walking into the sixth instalment of the Fast and Furious franchise, then don’t expect high art. Instead, expect a movie that understands just how preposterous this series has become. This instalment recognises its roots (illustrated early on with an eye-catching trip down memory lane during the opening credits sequence). Fast Five and Furious 6 have given this franchise an epic sense of scale and many awe-inspiring moments. By taking this series out of the streets of L.A., and setting instalments in countries such as Japan, Brazil, London, and Spain, director Justin Lin has made this series his own. This is his fourth and final Fast and Furious film, and the series won’t be the same without his magnetic touch. Here, his pacy and kinetic style overshadows the plot’s many small inconsistencies and overall silliness. This continent-hopping tale of worldwide terrorism and extreme heroics is surprisingly interesting. Lin delivers a much grittier instalment here compared to what we have seen before. By giving the team a good reason to return to the action, this movie sees every character continually put their lives on the line.
This series is home to some of the most impressive action sequences in film history. This film, somehow, tops Fast Five’s inventive and destructive vault-heist sequence. Every action set piece here is thrilling and balletic. Unlike most action directors, Lin knows where to place the camera and how to deliver everything that action-movie fans would want to see. The technical magic displayed in every car chase and fist-fight has to be seen to be believed. The first action set-piece is more thrilling and climactic than any action sequence with Michael Bay’s name on it. This set-piece winds skilfully through London’s narrow streets. A giant explosion is followed by a stunning car chase (featuring Batmobile-like race cars) that is then followed by a revelation that pushes the story forward. Lin proves that he puts 110% into every idea he has (watch the paint-balling episodes of Community to embrace more of his genius). Somehow, the action set-pieces increase in both scale and spectacle from there. The car/tank chase on a Spanish highway causes multi-millions of dollars in damage and costs many innocent lives. Cars are pancaked whilst the goodies weave through the freeway’s intricate set-up. Apparently, the laws of physics don’t apply to any freaky stunts that Dom and Shaw’s teams have up their sleeves.
“You don’t turn your back on family. Even when they do.” Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Fast & Furious 6).
This instalment is essentially a Mission: Impossible or Expendables sequel. The teamwork displayed by Dom’s gang is both endearing and touching. Many people will struggle to fathom why a special agent would assign a top-secret mission to a bunch of former car thieves. I, however, believe that Hobbs and Riley surround themselves with lawbreakers in order to think like, and eventually catch, lawbreakers. All of these actors, except for Johnson, are uninteresting in other films. However, these B-grade action stars work well together. Their witty banter builds a significant amount of chemistry. In an effort to toughen-up each character, the elaborate speeches, one-liners, and threats are delivered in an over-the-top fashion. However, the homoerotic overtones, created by the multiple bromances on display here, contrast the stern and overblown performances (it seemed like Hobbs and Toretto were about to make out at any second!). Diesel is strangely charming in this role. Despite slurring every line, his smirk-filled performance is effective here. Walker, on the other hand, is as boring as a Daewoo! Johnson is charismatic as the no-bull special agent. He continues his run of convincing action-star performances with his menacing turn and inhumanly-muscular frame. Gibson, Bridges, and Kang are commendable in their supporting roles. Evans fits into the antagonist role with ease, turning in a star-making performance for this forgettable Bond villain-like character.
Lin has created a Fast and Furious instalment that ably balances action, drama, character, and comedy. Despite its obvious ridiculousness and predictable plot, this movie is a highly-recommendable blockbuster. The biggest problem may, in fact, be the idiots who rev their engines and speed through the car park on their way home! Ps. be sure to stick around for the puzzling yet intriguing post-credits sequence.