After watching “Fast Five,” I kept wondering what the filmmakers would end up calling the sixth film in the franchise. One guy told me they should call it “Sexy Six” which I thought would be pretty cool, but the filmmakers decided not to be all that creative with the title this time and they just called it “Fast & Furious 6.” Then again, you will notice during the opening credits (yes, this one actually has opening credits) that the movie is called “Furious 6.” Why they decided not to put this title on the trailers, posters and TV commercials is beyond me because it sounds perfect.
Anyway, that doesn’t matter much because “Fast & Furious 6” proves to be just as much fun as its predecessor, and it delivers the kind of crazy and illogical entertainment we have come to expect from these movies; no more, no less. You can bitch and moan about the plot holes in this one and the absurdity of certain stunts, but this franchise is now over a decade old and we have long since given up trying to make sense of everything that goes on. I’m just astonished that director Justin Lin and company still managed to make an incredibly entertaining movie while not introducing much of anything new to this series.
After pulling off the mother of all bank heists in “Fast Five,” the merry band of car racers have retired rich and are enjoying life. Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) are now the parents of a baby boy, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) has a ridiculously beautiful estate in which he lives with Elena (Elsa Pataky), Gisele (Gal Godot) and Han (Sung Kang) have moved to Hong Kong, and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) flaunt their wealth in ways that are loud and generous.
But with this being a “Fast & Furious” movie, there’s no way that any of these people will stay retired. Into the picture comes Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) who meets up with Dom not to arrest him but to ask for his help in bringing down a former British Special Forces soldier named Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) who has taken down various military convoys. Dom of course has no interest in working with Hobbs, that is until Hobbs shows Dom a picture of one of Shaw’s crew members: his ex-girlfriend Letty (Michele Rodriguez). From there, the whole crew reassembles to take down Shaw, rescue Letty, get full pardons, and drive some super-fast cars (and they have to be fast).
It should be of no surprise to anyone by now that Letty is alive as this was confirmed during a post-credit sequence in “Fast Five,” and it’s good to see Rodriguez return to this franchise. While the explanation of how she survived doesn’t make all that much sense (these movies have never been high on logic), I’m glad to see her back. Letty looks to have turned bad and is suffering from amnesia, but you’ll have to see the movie for yourself to see how far from grace she has fallen.
It’s a shame that this will be Director Justin Lin’s last film in this long running franchise (James Wan will be taking over for number 7) as he continues to outdo himself in terms of the stunts he gets onscreen. Even when certain stunts stretch the boundaries of what’s even remotely possible, Lin still leaves us on the edge of our seats and begging for more of the same. He also understands that while we love the action, it’s the characters that bring us back as well as we have come to deeply care about what they go through.
We could get into a long discussion about whether or not Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are really acting in these movies, but that issue has long since been rendered moot. They are these characters, and they are key part of this franchise’s success as we root for them to get away with it all. That also goes for Jordana Brewster who, while a bit underused in this one, is still a kick to watch as Mia. Recent additions like Dwayne Johnson have also given the “Fast & Furious” movies a swift kick in the butt, and we leave this movie wondering if his muscles can get any bigger than they already are. It’s like what Danny DeVito said about Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Twins:”
“You’re all swelled up and you look like you’re ready to explode!”
Actually, the best thing about “Fast & Furious 6” is watching Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris play off of each other. These two are so damn funny as they try to one up each other as to who’s the cooler dude, and I wonder if the filmmakers would ever consider doing a spin-off series with their characters of Roman and Tej.
As for the newest additions to the “Fast & Furious” family, Luke Evans gives us the strongest villain this series has seen in a long time with Owen Shaw. This is not to say that the villains in the previous installments were weak (the actors playing them were quite good), but they proved to be generic in the large scheme of things. With Shaw, we get a character that is bound by a philosophy that is as strong as it is twisted, and Evans sees to it that we do not forget about this particular nemesis once we leave the theater.
Gina Carano, whom Steven Soderbergh directed in “Haywire,” is another newbie here as Hobbs’ partner Riley, and you can sure bet that she puts her Mixed Martial Arts fighting skills to good use. Her fight scenes with Rodriguez are exhilarating to witness, and those looking for a good catfight at the movies will get more than what they expected here.
Some of the craziest stunts in “Fast & Furious 6” include a tank which mows down every car in its path (and that’s regardless if the cars are imports or American made), and a cargo plane which our heroes use everything in their power to bring down. One automobile which stands out in particular is “The Flipper” which Shaw drives, and it’s a car that is designed to flip over any car that is foolish enough to get close to it. Whether you’re driving head on at this thing or trying to ram it from behind, you’re in a no-win situation and you will find yourself unexpectedly flying through the air and crashing painfully (look at Walker’s face as he finds this out the hard way).
“Fast & Furious 6” does have its share of plot holes which are becoming harder to forgive, and that airplane runway featured in the movie’s climax is even longer than the one in “Die Hard 2,” but it’s still a slam bang piece of entertainment to where you can only complain about its problems so much. It’s not better than “Fast Five” which was a wicked blast, but it’s still delivers the kind of fun we have come to expect from films like this. As always, be sure to stick around for a post-credit sequence in which we will get to meet the villain of part 7. While the identity of the actor playing the villain has long since been spoiled by internet sites that couldn’t keep their traps shut, you’ll still get a kick out of seeing this guy appear on the big screen.