Directed by: Justin Lin
Starring: Vin Diesel, The Rock, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Gina Carano
The Fast and the Furious is easily one of the shallowest film franchises ever created in action, story, gratuitous car porn, and skin. It’s a franchise that never should have really existed beyond the first film but definitely not beyond the abysmal Tokyo Drift. The fact is the franchise did continue and in fact the fifth film in the franchise became the most successful in box office and in story. That film introduced The Rock into the franchise which was probably the most brilliant move the filmmakers could have made. The action was amped up as was the drama. Fast Five was dumb fun and sometimes that’s ok. With the success of that film there was no question there would be another one, so here we have Furious 6 as the opening title reads. How many more times can they play with that title?
The first thing that must be noted about this film is just how strongly it sticks to the canon set up within the franchise. It’s funny that characters and story that are built on such a shaky foundation have actually found merit and have even become critically important. Justin Lin completes some character story arcs in this film and sets up more for an inevitable next film. Lin even bravely drops a mid-credits stinger at the end of the film making the entire thing a cliffhanger. I have to admit that the stinger and the new character it introduces have me ridiculously excited to see Fast 7. Wait, did I just type that?
IN Furious 6 the entire team has retired and the opening of the film sets the characters up in their new lives with some behaving a little better than others. At the same time a new villain is introduced and a new type of story is brought into the franchise. This villain and his team are out to execute the greatest heist ever, even at the potential cost of millions of lives. Luke Hobbs (The Rock) and his partner Riley (Gina Carano) are on the case. In the most abbreviated narrative writing ever Hobbs decides that it basically takes a criminal to catch a criminal. He makes this decision having not even attempted to catch the bad guys once himself. He has a trump card to force Dom’s (Vin Diesel) team into action too: he has proof that Dom’s presumed dead girlfriend and member of the team Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is alive and a part of this new group of international criminals. Again in excessively, near laughable fashion, Dom and Brian’s (Paul Walker) significant others give them the go ahead and jump back into action, regardless of the danger. These women don’t even show a minimal amount of concern for their men. The first few minutes of the movie flies by at this breakneck pace barreling on to get to the good parts. It’s as if Lin wanted to just hit all of the required character marks with as little effort as possible in order to get right into the action. This would normally bother me but based on this film’s pedigree we’re lucky to even get those basic character arc moments no matter how clichéd their execution is.
This franchise started out as a remake of Point Break for the most part. You had a group of thieves that were all a part of some extreme sport. The franchise has “evolved” into an almost Mission Impossible sort of thing now. You’ve still got the expert drivers but now there’s a tech expert and some bad assed fighters too. Yes it all sounds dumb and honestly it is dumb, really dumb. The thing is that the characters are all extremely charismatic, the action is flawless and exciting, and for the most part the humor works. What you end up with is a roller coaster and cotton candy. It’s not smart, it’s not long lasting, but while you’re at the theme park it’s a crap ton of fun. Furious 6 never hits the highs that made Fast 5 such a surprise and such a good time but it does give fans of the franchise, and those just looking for summer escapism what they’re looking for. The addition of Gina Carano doesn’t exactly up the acting game in this movie but she does up the fighting. This lady is a bad ass in these scenes; they just feel natural to her and extremely painful.
Honestly this may be the worst written story of the summer. There’s even a scene where the bad guy gives Brian all the answers because in his words “you’re a walking dead man so I might as well tell you”. Of course we all know that he gets outta this particular situation with all the answers. It’s just painfully stupid. If it weren’t for the success of all of the previously mentioned good stuff Furious 6 would be a direct to DVD $5 bin special. The thing is the good stuff is just really good. On an up note it seems like Diesel has recovered from the stroke I felt like he must have suffered during the making of Fast Five because there’s only one or two scenes where I couldn’t understand what he said. Here’s the thing, this isn’t a good movie but it is a fun movie. Take that as you will.