When a film is a success, especially surprise successes like the original “The Fast and the Furious,” it doesn’t take a studio very long to finance a sequel. While many films have sequels, few get to be a franchise with multiple movies, as is the case with “The Fast and the Furious,” which is about to release the sixth installment in the series-“Fast and Furious 6.” Though you don’t have to necessarily see all five previous films to enjoy this movie, it helps to have a little background.
The Original Cast is Back
Few franchises get to their sixth film with most of the original cast intact, but “Fast & Furious 6” manages to do so. This is fairly surprising, considering that Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) was thought to be dead in 2009’s “Fast & Furious.” She isn’t dead, but she does have amnesia as a result of the injuries she sustained, which is why she is now no longer with the gang, including ex-lover Dominic (Vin Diesel), his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), and her husband, ex-cop Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker). In fact, Letty is now working for Shaw (Luke Evans), a shady character who becomes the main villain.
The Rock is Back Too
In “Fast Five,” the last installment before “Fast and Furious 6,” a new character was introduced to breathe a little new life into the series. The character is DSS (Diplomatic Security Service) Agent Luke Hobbs, played by Dwayne Johnson, who previously went by the stage name The Rock. Hobbs is a good agent who earned the trust and respect of Dominic and Brian by giving them a twenty-four-hour head start to outrun the police after they saved his life in an ambush. The character has some good one-liners, which Johnson delivers in what is by now a patented way. He gives the film some occasional levity, which is a nice respite from all the racing and gunplay. There are rumors that he will continue with the franchise for many years and become a regular like Dominic and Brian.
The Family Has Expanded
Brian and Mia have married and are now expecting a little bundle of joy. In fact, when the film opens, Dominic and Brian are on the way to the hospital as Mia has just called with the news that she is in labor. The scene takes place in the Canary Islands, where the group has escaped to after their big payday in the previous film. Mia played a huge role in all of the previous films except for “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” but her role here is much smaller. The group doesn’t want her to get in on any action because she just gave birth and isn’t supposed to be driving a car, much less stealing them. She stays home to take care of her newborn, which means Brewster isn’t in “Fast & Furious 6” very much. This was likely due, at least in part, to the fact that Brewster got a plum role in the new TNT reboot of “Dallas,” making her availability an issue.
The Crew May Not Be on the Lam Much Longer
Though most people would probably not mind living the rest of their lives with a bunch of cash on the Canary Islands, the crew does miss their home turf of Los Angeles. When Hobbs pays them a visit and offers them immunity from their previous crimes in exchange for bringing down Shaw, they actually listen to him. They have no reason to put themselves back in danger, as they are flush in cash and are safe from criminal prosecution in the Canary Islands. However, the thought of being able to go back home is so tempting, especially now that there is a new baby in the family.
The Saga Will Continue
Most film studios wait until a movie has been released before commissioning another sequel because they want to see how the film performs at the box office. On a rare occasion, a studio may give the green light to a film before its predecessor comes out, which is the case with “Fast & Furious 6.” When the film was shown to test audiences months before its official release, the overwhelmingly positive response was enough for Universal to give the go-ahead for “Fast and Furious 7.” In fact, studio executives are so confident in the seventh installment that they have already given it a July 11, 2014, opening date. Viewers who want to get a taste of what to expect in the upcoming seventh film should stay until the end of the closing credits to get a sneak peak.