A film review by Craig J. Koban May 28, 2013
FAST AND FURIOUS 6
2013, PG-13, 130 mins.
2013, PG-13, 130 mins.
Paul Walker as Brian O'Conner / Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto / Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs / Luke Evans as Owen Shaw / Michelle Rodriguez as Letty
Directed by Justin Lin / Screenplay by Chris Morgan
There are bad trashy films and then there are good trashy films. FAST AND FURIOUS 6 – or FAST SIX or FURIOUS SIX, however you slice it – is preposterously trashy, but it’s also slick and relatively proficiently made preposterous trash.
Enjoyment of this sixth – count ‘em…SIXTH! – film in the
pure auto porn/bromance action series will largely depend on your fondness
of its five predecessors, not to mention your willingness to completely
suspend your disbelief of cars – and humans – defying the
natural laws of physics.
If the sight of seeing slick European roadsters and American
muscle cars pulling down a gigantic military cargo plane with massive
harpoons does not turn your crank, then FAST 6 won't be your cup of tea.
For all others yearning to see a display of absurdly unfeasible
demolition derby action, then the film will be a rush of big and dumb
been a FAST AND FURIOUS apologist. I
admit it. I especially liked
the previous film, FAST FIVE, which –
as far as fifth films in a series go – achieved the impossible by taking
characters and storylines that were growing staler by the minute and
retrofitting them into a fresh and exciting heist/caper thriller.
That film – as subversively and unashamedly silly as it was -
breathed new creative life into a series that was starting to run cold in
2009’s FAST AND FURIOUS. This
new model, if I can call it that, continues right where FAST FIVE finished
off and lovingly continues that film’s penchant for grease monkey
camaraderie and playfully bombastic and over-the-top action sequences that
get more fiendishly – but enjoyably – improbable by the minute.
Six films into the series, it’s kind of commendable how the
makers are still managing to find new and twistedly novel ways to stage what
would be obligatory car chases.
the last film felt like an OCEAN’S ELEVEN heist flick, then FAST SIX comes
off as more James Bondian, as the heroes have to come back together to
hunt down and apprehend a globe-trotting criminal/terrorist.
The baddie in question is Owen Shaw (Luke Evans, a decent British
thespian that's somewhat stranded within a relatively dull and one-note
protagonist) is attempting to launch a well-oiled plan to gather
components together to create what would be an unfathomably dangerous and
expensive weapon to his enemies. U.S.
special agent Luke Hobbs (the positively swelling out of his shirt Dwayne
Johnson) reappears from the last film and seeks out Dominic Toretto (Vin
Diesel), who has been living safely and secretly in an overseas country
without extradition laws (especially considering his criminal actions at the
end of FAST FIVE). Luke wants
Dominic to help him catch Shaw, but Dominic steadfastly refuses.
Luke has an ace up his sleeve. He
gives Dominic some Intel on Shaw’s operation, which has a photo of
Dominic's presumed-dead ex-girlfriend, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who
appears to be in collusion with Shaw.
Dominic decides to join Luke’s cause, but only if he can bring
his old crew in on the job and get full pardons from the American
government. Luke relents to
Dominic’s request, and once all members of Dom’s team are reassembled
– including his BFF and new daddy, Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker, as
stoically vanilla as ever) – the mission begins to take shape.
Complications begin to come hellishly to the forefront, such as the
revelation that Letty – cue the cheesy soap opera music – has amnesia
and can’t remember anything of her days with Dom and the boys.
Not only does Dom have the task of catching a nefarious criminal
mastermind, but he now has to lure Letty back from the dark side and help
her reclaim her memories.
like this are unalterably defined by, yes, their action scenes, and
director Justin Lin (in his fourth straight FAST AND FURIOUS outing) spares
no expense at crafting sequences of vehicular warfare that are
simultaneously exhilarating and make you scratch your head in befuddled
incredulity. The last film
contained a series benchmark for over-the-top craziness, showcasing Dom
and Brian racing through the crowded streets of Rio, destroying everything
in their paths, while dragging bank faults behind them (inane…sure…but
justifiably tries to amp up everything here to head-smacking extremes of
mayhem, and mostly delivers. There’s
an early scene involving a high speed chase through London with the
villain sporting a makeshift car with a built-in ramp on the front end
that topples over any cars attempting to crash head-on into it; nifty, if
not kind of limitlessly far-fetched.
are two other set pieces that deserve mention, one of which involves a
spectacularly envisioned and sustained highway chase involving Dom and
company in their beefed up autos trying desperately to stop Shaw –
who’s in a tank! – from getting away, which results in a barrage of
destruction that would rival any war movie.
This sequence ends with one character being hurtled through the air
by a crashing car, catching another character that too is freefalling to
what should be a bloody death, and ends with both laughably and
comfortably landing on another car with barely a scratch on their
respective bodies. There are
ample fisticuffs as well, especially during a bone crushing battle between
Dom and Luke tag teaming versus Shaw and a brute that is ridiculously
bigger than Johnson himself. Even
the women refreshingly get in on the action, as Rodriguez and series
newcomer, Gina Carano (from Steven Soderbergh’s HAYWIRE),
have a donnybrook to end all woman-on-woman donnybrooks.
lot of sequences like this will draw endless snickers from audience
members, but they are done with such a sly and unpretentious wink to
viewers that they’re hard to criticize.
The batty-as-hell climax involving the aforementioned military
cargo plane cranks up the unbridled ridiculousness to eleven on the WTF
meter, but you can sense Lin’s unbridled and fetishistic passion for
trying to top one amped up action set piece after another.
More often than not, you find yourself in awe of what’s
transpiring, followed by a laugh, and then concluding with a hearty smack
to the head by the sheer nonsensicality of it all.
Not all art – and trashy art – has to be steeped in Earth-bound
reality to be entertaining.
Listen, FAST SIX isn’t faultless. It lacks the career rejuvenating freshness of FAST FIVE, not to mention that Evan’s Shaw never emerges as a memorably scary or intriguing villain. The film is also a bit too heavy on back-story exposition and would-be dramatic scenes that seem kind of disingenuous to the parade of madness that permeates the action. Using amnesia – one of the cheapest staples of providing character conflict in drama – to define and reintroduce Letty into the series is an obtrusively eye rolling plot development. Nonetheless, nitpicking story dynamics here may be kind of redundant, because FAST SIX is pure junk food for unrefined souls that require easy cinematic nourishment. Ludicrousness here is not only a staple ingredient; it’s also the film’s unapologetic mantra.
trust me, there’s going to be a FAST SEVEN.
For sure. Stay through
the end credits.