jason stives is in the driver’s seat …
Let’s be frank. The Fast and Furious films are completely ridiculous but it’s a damn good exercise in how to be ridiculous in a summer blockbuster while not insulting your intelligence either.
While in the past I have chastised big action franchises like Die Hard for taking itself out of a sense of reality, you never have to worry about that with the Fast films. It’s quite possibly one of the most self-aware action film series out there. They don’t take themselves too seriously and despite defying all sense of logic — you just have to wave off anything that is impossible and just enjoy the ride. Fast Five end up being the surprise of the series two years ago by not only reinventing the wheel, taking the series from car centric action to heist oriented insanity, but by also being the best. Not many franchises have that title to their credit five films in and while Furious 6 (the truncated title the film displays in the end credits) doesn’t reinvent the wheel … again it’s still a lot of dumb fun and you really can’t expect any more than that.
When DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is put in charge of investigating a military based robbery conducted by a group of automotive terrorists, he enlists the help of retired car thief Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his elite team of car thieves that evaded Hobb in Rio two years prior. Toretto reforms the group with the help of Hobbs and they set off in pursuit of Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) the leader of the terrorist group that also happens to include Toretto’s former love Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), alive and well but without any memory of her past.
Before anyone starts going into the physics of most of the film’s biggest action sequences think long and hard about what film you are talking about. The action in this film is big and stupid and looking for a grain of truth in what is happening is foolish. The plot itself doesn’t matter because we have seen most of it before. Even the plot involving villain Owen Shaw never really mustered much interest and for 2/3rds of the film I didn’t know exactly what he was after other than a microchip. Apparently obtaining this means walloping a freeway in Spain with a tank with Toretto’s crew in toe leaping off cars and rubble-inspired ramps. Shaw is probably one of the most run-of-the-mill villains ever but that’s something that this series has been known for doing. He deploys the two big skills that most modern villains show off: computer skills and martial arts and that’s all that can really be said about him. If I commend the film for one thing it’s that it didn’t give in to the idea of restoring Rodriguez’s memory by some big moment; this broad doesn’t remember a damn thing by films end but she is okay with that and so are we.
I know I should never go looking for first class writing in these films but sometimes I do because I enjoy them that much. The Fast films aren’t looking to have William Goldman-level scripts but part of you just wished that the writing had a little more potency. The themes stay the same: loyalty, trust, family and that’s fine because that is why the last three films under the direction of Justin Lin have been as critically and commercially successful as they have been but the dialogue tends to be so dry and hammy. I don’t know why I would expect anything different so we will just leave the criticisms there because everything you should like in these films is here: the cars, the explosions, the insane stunts, and the cliché one-liners.
You also have the benefit of a big likable ensemble that doesn’t necessarily need a lot to do to be entertaining. They are all back with the addition of former MMA fighter Gina Carano as Hobb’s new partner but no one person overshadows the other. Thankfully, these movies never end up feeling like a vehicle (no pun intended) for Vin Diesel and the team mentality means everyone is involved and equally as important. There is also that signature mix of cheesy yet entertaining humor that makes up these films and Tyrese Gibson and Chris ”Ludacris” Bridges as usual give their best in this department but Dwayne Johnson also gets a chance to showcase a less than serious persona than the previous film.
As I said before you have to just wave logic at every corner in a Fast and Furious film. Every crime involves a car, every car can do insane stunts, and apparently, every person can too. Indeed, in spite of being a film that everyone expects ridiculous things from one action sequence involving Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez had the eager audience around me all proclaim “Oh c’mon, really?” It doesn’t disrupt the film’s flow and neither does the insane finale that pits team versus team armed with cars, guns, and a “planet size” carrier plane. However, you may be surprised to learn that there is actually continuity in this series and this film brings us full circle on the franchise’s story while setting up an interesting game changer (involving a certain action icon) for the film’s inevitable final installment next summer.
Fast and Furious 6 is much the same as its predecessor and that’s fine because this isn’t Shakespeare; this is over the top, borderline B-movie schlock that is fun and exciting, nothing more, nothing less, and while you sure won’t feel like the smartest person in the room by film’s end you know you have had a good time.
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Pretty Good)