Release date: 6th June 2013
Director: Justin Lin
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Gina Carano, Tyrese Gibson, Luke Evans
Review by Peter Gray
Whilst most franchises lose their steam with each succeeding sequel, the Fast and the Furious franchise is one of those rare occurrences where the latter films breathe new life into the series. Once a run of films focusing on car racing, and whatever sub-genre pertaining to that they could muster, the most recent sequel, 2011’s ‘Fast Five’, introduced a bank heist element which was viewed as a welcome change of pace. For ‘Fast & Furious 6’ (or ‘Furious 6’ as it’s credited) racing is once again put on the backburner, though still a predominant theme, and terrorism is brought to the forefront. This is still a Fast & Furious film though and any thoughts you may have as to thinking this terrorism angle will bring about a more sophisticated film should be discarded immediately, as part 6 is just as preposterous and as implausible as its predecessors, perhaps even moreso.
I’ve never been ashamed to admit that I am a fan of this series, and I am fully aware of how ridiculous they are, but it can’t be denied that they are an awful lot of fun and director Justin Lin, who has helmed the series since part 3 (‘Tokyo Drift)’, has managed to hone the right amount of testosterone-fuelled craziness to drive the series beyond its limits. For part 6 it appears that any false gravity the previous entries believed they had (and it’s a fair argument to be made that there was a great deal of macho seriousness thrown around) has been dispensed and Lin goes for broke in all regards, and the film is better for it. Take one prolonged action sequence where a tank rolls along an elevated highway, crushing each and every helpless vehicle in its path as our band of heroes try their best to stop it, with it culminating in a rescue that saw the audience erupt with both groans of disbelief and rapturous applause. It was at this point that ‘Furious 6’ truly showed its hand at how proud it was of being so self-aware and utterly ridiculous.
Outside of the aforementioned highway sequence, there’s a plot of sorts which sees our long-time series regulars Vin Diesel and Paul Walker reassembling the team from ‘Fast Five’ in a bid to hunt generic villain Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), a smarmy Brit who is on the loose in London looking to track down a device that has the ability to black out a country for 24 hours, and naturally sell it to the highest bidder. It’s a neat idea and one that warrants enough of an excuse for Diesel’s tank top wearing Dom Toretto and Walker’s good-cop-turned-bad-boy-but-still-a-nice-guy Brian O’Connor to travel around the world and perform a variety of stunts all in the name of action aesthetics. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is also returning from the previous sequel as Diplomatic Security Service agent Hobbs, appearing more muscular in every frame at the same rate as his shirts get smaller, using his intimidating stature to the best of his ability and the revival of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), presumed dead in the 4th film, likes to come across as an exciting plot point but is really just an excuse to permit Diesel to grumble copious lines about loyalty and family.
With the character of Shaw being touted as an international criminal, it makes little sense that his devious acts are so overplayed but we wouldn’t be here if we wanted logic so the more loud and destructive he can be, the better as ‘Furious 6’ banks on keeping its audience spellbound with senselessness; There are multiple fistfights (the inevitable girlfight between Rodriguez and martial arts expert Gina Carano – as Hobbs’ partner – proves a highlight), countless car chases, and endless shoot-outs, not to mention the amount of times a car is seen in mid-air, that you’ll ultimately be powerless to resist its cartoonish havoc. Then there’s the culminating sequence involving the takedown of a cargo plane that is beyond frantic in its editing that it’s hard to tell just what exactly is going on but it involves about three different cars being dragged in the air, a few henchmen being tossed into the engine, and another batch of fistfights. It’s all so exhausting but I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face and I’m guessing that’s exactly the reaction ‘Furious 6’ was going for.
With the final frame of the film bringing a closed cycle to the previous entries, those in the know will be aware the second sequel ‘Tokyo Drift’ is out of alignment with the other films and chronologically is set after this film, ‘Furious 6’ ends on a note to allow the confirmed 7th film to play however it wants and with its post-credit sequence revelation proving a hit with the audience I saw it with, as well as the news that ‘Insidious’ director James Wan is taking directing duties, ‘Fast & Furious 7’ is at least looking like one of 2014’s most intriguing projects.
My rating 3.5/5 (Fast & furious fun)