The Fast and Furious series started from humble beginnings and has since grown into the behemoth of explosions, familial bonds, fast cars, and wild stunts folks have grown to love over the years. Before it races into the future with part seven, however, the sixth entry in the series needs to succeed and somehow live up to the madness its predecessor thrived in.
Where Fast & Furious (2009) and Fast Five sought to turn the series into a set of bank heists and crime dramas, Fast & Furious 6 takes the first step into serious action movie territory. A genre that isn’t limited to “vehicular warfare” as the characters take notable steps out of their vehicles. It’s a bold, smarter step for the growing series.
Well, smart enough to enjoy how Ludacris this all is anyway.
Fast & Furious 6
Director: Justin Lin
Release Date: May 24, 2013
Almost the entire gang returns (Don Omar, Tego Calderon, and Eva Mendes are noticeably absent) as Hobbes (Dwayne Johnson) goes to Dom (Vin Diesel) for help in catching a new crew of skilled drivers, led by Shaw (Luke Evans), who are stealing parts of a vague government super weapon. Dom is uninterested at first until Hobbes reveals that Dom’s ex-girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) didn’t die like Dom thought she did and is now helping Shaw run that crew of super evil mercenary racers. Dom then recruits the old gang (Gal Gadot, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Ludacris, and Paul Walker) as they work with Hobbes and earn full pardons in the process.
Admittedly, it’s hard to write that summary and not chuckle a bit. Right after I watched the film (and began writing this review) I had to pinch myself to make sure what I saw, was in fact, something I indeed saw. I just watched a film about a crew of street racers taking down a doppelganger crew (this troupe is hilariously mocked and turned around in the dialogue) of street racing thieves and it involved tanks, Dwayne Johnson as a one man-one liner delivery machine, Batmobiles, a giant planet plane, nitrous oxide, and two Gina Carano and Michelle Rodriguez (two of the most badass women ever) fights. Fast & Furious 6 does indeed exist. And it is gloriously ridiculous. But…how much credit should it get for its self aware stupidity? Tons.
2009’s Fast & Furious (the fourth part of this now seven film saga) felt much like an experimental transition between types of movies. It carried on the street racing shtick from Tokyo Drift (it’s also extremely important to note that Tokyo Drift is technically the last story in the F&F timeline) while beginning to integrate greater series themes like crime in a foreign land while the street races became less realistic and grandiose. It had its faults, but its universe eventually led to the greatness that was Fast Five, a film in which two Dodge Chargers could toss around a million pound bank vault with little problem. Why is this important to bring up now? Because much of Fast & Furious 6 feels like an experimental transition.
The bold and smart step I mentioned? It’s Furious 6‘s complete withdrawal from any sort of reality. The commitment to its stupidity leads to all sorts of spectacular (and surprisingly practical) stunts that could rival any Michael Bay film. In fact, I can say without a doubt that Furious 6‘s stunts have somehow set a new standard for not only the series, but any action film that involves cars. The Ludacris nature of its new direction not only applies to the stunts, but to the characters (and their interactions with each other) as well. While the film’s dialogue and superfluous use of words like “family” and “honor,” have been slightly charming in the past (and part of the reason Fast and Furious became a success in the first place), they’re blown way out of proportion here and somehow aren’t a detriment to the film. Lots of the film’s “sure okay, whatever” (“You want to chase after your formerly dead ex-girlfriend? Sure okay, whatever”) decisions in the film are written off as “WE’RE FAMILY” and it’s completely fine.
Fast and Furious used to fall apart as soon as the crew left their vehicles. Thankfully, that’s not the case anymore. Now that Fast and Furious begins the turn towards action, there are plenty of hand to hand fights with fight choreography getting much better (one of the better scenes involves one of the stars from The Raid: Redemption, Joe Taslim, getting to strut his stuff). Don’t expect greasy bald men wrestling here. People are thrown against walls with minimal effort, Dwayne Johnson hilariously apes interrogation violence, and he even gets to throw a People’s Elbow. Although, Don Omar and Tego Calderon’s humorous exchanges are sorely missed, Tyreese and Ludacris thankfully make up for them in spades.
Fast & Furious 6 isn’t a perfect film (every interaction with a Londoner paints them all in an extremely negative light as they become prejudiced Anti-Americans, there’s an arguable lapse in pace during the second act as the plot’s thin premise loses steam, not everyone will enjoy its overblown machismo), but it’s definitely a celebration of itself. From the openings credits, a montage of the five previous films, to its explosive third act (stay for a bit after the films ends for a very serious treat), the film is constantly firing on all cylinders.
There’s a difference between films that are unintentionally funny and a film that knowingly accepts that it’s stupid. Furious 6 in no way refers to its audience in a derogatory manner. It instead decides to revel in the fact that most everyone will expect dumb things and delivers it to them on a silver platter. Justin Lin may not be returning for the seventh part, but that’s a good thing. Fast & Furious 6 is definitely his magnum opus. I can’t wait to see where we could possibly go on from here. Space?
Geoff Henao: Fast & Furious 6 has been announced as Lin’s final film in the series, so it only makes sense that he leaves with a bang. It’s still not going to garner a great critical response or make audiences re-think action films, but it’s wholly entertaining and the very definition of a Hollywood summer movie. The future of the series will depend on James Wan’s vision in next film, but if the post-credits scene is any indication, I get the feeling Fast & Furious 7 will help elevate the series to an even higher level. 80 — Great
Matthew Razak: It may be that you can’t stand Vin Diesel’s gravely voice. It may be that the sight of Paul Walker getting paid to act is unbearable to you. It may be that you have hated all the other Fast & Furious films. Whatever reasons you may have for not seeing this movie throw them out the window because the final action sequence involving a cargo plane, grappling hooks, body slams, explosions, fist fights on top of cars and pretty much everything but the kitchen sink is worth sitting through anything. A masterful bit of summer action that sees Lin leaving the series he ushered into greatness with a bang. 82 — Great