There’s a twelve year old boy inside of me that loved Fast and Furious 6. The chases, the explosions, the fist fights, the scantily clad women on the hoods of cars; this all appeals to me on a certain base level. Fast Five was something of a little miracle because it embraced the ridiculousness of the franchise and approached the over the top action with humor and tongue firmly in cheek. Part six certainly attempts to outdo its predecessor in the stunt department, and there are some breathtaking sequences. It is not the success that Fast Five was because it takes itself far too seriously.
The action picks up right where Fast Five left off, with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) living the good life after the heist in Rio that left him and his crew sitting on a hundred million dollars. Former FBI agent turned criminal Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) and Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) have had a baby, and Dom and his gang plan on living happily ever after, their lives of crime far behind them. This, of course, is not to be. DEA Agent and former adversary Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) shows up with evidence that Dom’s supposedly dead girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is still alive and in the employ of Shaw (Luke Evans), an international criminal with a penchant for supercharged cars. In exchange for full pardons, Dom and his crew agree to track Shaw down.
If this all sounds very convoluted, that’s because it is. The filmmakers assume that the audience is familiar with the entire franchise, as the story references characters and incidents from all five previous films. There are plot holes so big you could drive a tank through them (and believe me, they do.) However, plot and character development are not the driving force of these movies and never have been. The series has completely abandoned its street racing roots and while there are car chases, the movie is chock full of gun battles and fisticuffs. This can work as it did in the previous installment, where Justin Lin proved he is a fine director of action. The chase scenes in Fast Five were exciting and entertaining for two reasons: as ludicrous as they were, you always knew what was going on, and the effects didn’t rely too heavily on computer animation. He kind of drops the ball in this movie, instead embracing the quick cutting, closely shot, shaky cam action style that makes it hard to comprehend exactly what is happening and where. Staging much of the action at night didn’t help matters either. Plus, there are some sequences that are obviously CG and so laughably impossible as to make the scene in Mission: Impossible where Tom Cruise jumps from an exploding helicopter onto a bullet train believable.
I’m a huge fan of popcorn flicks, and I don’t require a movie to necessarily be thoughtful and socially relevant. The problem with Fast and Furious 6 is that despite some fairly incredible set pieces, it is overlong and not very much fun. If the series can’t do what it does with a wink and a smile, it may be time to retire the franchise.