Fast & Furious 6
2013 - 130 minutes
Directed by: Justin Lin
Written by: Chris Morgan
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, Gal Gadot, Luke Evans,
Gina Carano, Jordanna Brewster
Not many franchises can claim to have hit their stride with the 5th installment, but that’s what “Fast & Furious” succeeded at with “Fast Five” in 2011. The films and characters graduated from a neon-tinged look at the culture of street-racing kids to high concept action/adventure.
“Fast & Furious 6” (or, as the title card says, simply “Furious 6”) definitely ups the ante with the action set pieces – which include a tank and a cargo plane – but unfortunately loses some of its forward momentum in a talky second act that is used primarily to wrap up loose plot strings from this and previous installments in the series. It handles everything probably as well as can be expected when you have a character still alive who died three movies ago, as well as one who died two movies ago only to reappear in this film. Among other character resolutions.
The resurrected is Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who brings her tough girl swagger to the series and was likely only killed off to add drama to what the filmmakers figured was a franchise sputtering to its end. But new life for the films means new life for her, one that comes with a case of soap opera amnesia.
You see, Letty used to roll with Dominic Toretto and Brian O’Connor (Vin Diesel and Paul Walker), leaders of the street racers turned outlaw master criminals and action heroes, but is now part of the team headed by the evil Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). His team, which drive skeletal-like matchbox cars with ability to move at all angles and also outfitted with ramps to flip oncoming vehicles, have an unnecessarily complex plan to steal a series of technical equipment to construct a device that can blackout an entire city for 24 hours. Or something. It doesn’t really matter.
No worries if you can’t keep up with the plot, the movie can’t either and since it doesn’t care, neither should you. The point is they must be stopped and Dom, Brian and their team are recruited by Special Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), their former nemesis, to take them down. If they do, they can be reunited with Letty and have their records wiped clean.
Between Shaw’s team, Toretto’s team, Agent Hobbs and his partner Riley (former MMA fighter Gina Carano), there are just way too many people to keep track of and care about. Supporting characters are defined by how they look or one specific skill – the hulking behemoth, wise-cracking fast talker, tech expert, etc. The best use of character traits is seen in two separate fights between Rodriguez and Carano – each one exciting with an interesting role reversal from one fight to the next.
On the grandest of scales “Furious 6” presents two showcase climaxes in quick succession. The first is a highway chase with cars vs. a tank where dozens of innocent motorists are killed with no pause, and multiple heroes fly through the air, defying the laws of physics with not only their cars, but their bodies as well.
Shortly thereafter its cars vs. a huge cargo plane on The Longest Runway on Earth. Seriously, these cars and this plane are traveling at high rates of speed for easily 15 minutes. I’m not great at math, but my calculations put this runway at approximately 50 miles long. Setting aside pesky impossibilities though, both of these sequences are a feast for the eyes and ears and are all you can ask for in this kind of film.
“Furious 6” is big and dumb and completely unapologetic about it, which it has to be to work. All that holds it back from full-throttle thrill is the dragging middle section that services the overarching mythos of the series. By the final minutes though, it appears the story has been reset and we’re ready to move forward in a fresh direction with “Fast Seven” (“Furious Seven?”). Buckle up, because Dom and his team certainly aren’t slowing down.
© 2013 by Blake Crane