May 23, 2013 by bck1402
Directed by Justin Lin
First of all, despite the title on the poster and promotional material, the title on screen was Furious 6, so I’m going with that. It also almost makes sense that the of the original team from Fast Five, only six are back, and that doesn’t include the ‘Samoan Hulk’. Gotta love the Japanese version of the title tho – “Wild Speed: Euro Mission”
Now, back to pre-prepared thoughts…
There was a string of vehicular mayhem movies back in the 70s to early 80s that seemed to feed an action fan’s appetite. I think stuntman turned director, Hal Needham, was mostly responsible for most of them at the time. At least from the Smokey and the Bandit movies to The Cannonball Run and Megaforce to others probably inspired by him (Gone in Sixty Seconds – not the one with Nicolas Cage – comes to mind). And then came the action heroes and the vehicular insanity ebbed away for a while thanks to the sputtering nonsense of Speed Zone (a very belated Cannonball Run movie, notable for Brooke Shields showing some comedy chops that led to her TV series, Suddenly Susan). I honestly can’t think of any movie that played up the vehicular mayhem that much throughout the 90s… although The Chase (1994, with Charlie Sheen and Kristy Swanson comes to mind now).
When The Fast and The Furious hit the screens in 2001, it was more to show off the car culture at the time. The movie was inspired by an article in Vibe magazine called Racer X (reprinted here). The whole cop story thing was created for the movie. While the sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious, delivered more of the cop action in 2003, it didn’t look like this was a franchise with any wheels.
With 2006’s The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, the franchise went back to the car culture and street racing, but in a different country and a whole different kind of racing. Director Justin Lin managed to inject some much needed verve into what was an ailing franchise looking for a new direction. Having original star, Vin Diesel, putting a cameo at the end of that one managed to spark interest with its core audience (whatever that was at the time), and inspire the studio to try something different. With Lin at the helm and writer Chris Morgan doing the world building and guiding the characters (he may not have created all of them, but he’s got them pegged very well), Fast and Furious (2009) managed to reinvigorate the series to spawn Fast Five (2011) and now Furious 6, with another instalment already in the wings to make skid marks in 2014. (And aren’t the title and numbering just weird?)
As the tagline on the posters and other advertising have been stating, “All roads lead to this” and just to remind you, we actually get an opening credits sequence with everything that has come before flashing away (save for Tokyo Drift, which anyone who knows the franchise, knows that off in the future). So, as teased at the end of Fast Five, it turned out that Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) didn’t die in Fast and Furious, and we get a different view of that sequence to see what really happened. That’s not the only thing that’s come back from Fast and Furious tho.
Anyway, Letty’s running with a whole different crew that Hobbs (Dwyane Johnson) is chasing, and using Letty as leverage, he convinces Dom (Diesel) to gather the gang – Brian (Paul Walker), Roman (Tyrese), Tej (Chris Bridges), Han (Sung Kang) and Gisele (Gal Gadot) – to help Hobbs chase down Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). New to the team and working at Hobbs’ side is Riley (Gina Carano). Dom just wants to get Letty back and find out what really happened to her.
By this point in the franchise, the cast are very comfortable with their roles, so there’s nothing to really complain about. With Tego and Santos absent, most of the comedy falls to Roman and Tej. The humour within the film flows very nicely and doesn’t seem too forced. Diesel appears very comfortable to allow the other stars take the spotlight as needed by the story as he did in the previous instalment. Only Jordana Brewster (Mia) and Elsa Pataky (Elena) are sidelined by the plot although they do have their moments. Evans, in the meantime, chews up the scenery as the cool and very calculating villainous Shaw, delivering a very calculated performance at the same time.
The plot is fairly straightforward, and it makes no qualms about being exactly what it is – a B-Movie action thriller with lots of vehicular mayhem. And, man, do they deliver on that front, putting quite a few action movies to shame. There are the requisite car chases, this time taking it to the streets of London. All manner of vehicles are used and trashed, flipped, crushed, blown up and what have you. This is a movie that revels in its B-movieness with A-grade production. Some of the stunts are so insane, it takes your breath away. I know I needed a moment after the whole movie to catch my breath, that’s for sure. Yes, the trailers gave away quite a bit, and if you saw all of them, you saw some of the big moments too, but some of the smaller fisticuffs were well done as well. For me, one main highlight was the showdown between Carano (up and coming female action star, following MMA fights and Haywire)and Rodriguez (one of the top female action stars, from Girlfight to Resident Evil and Battle Los Angeles).
Given how Lin has invigorated the franchise, it seems a shame that in pursuing a release date, Universal Studios has decided to hire James Wan (Saw, Insidious, Death Sentence) for the next instalment while Lin was still in post production of this movie. Still, eight years and four movie on the franchise, Lin has done an amazing job of creating some of the more impressive vehicular stunts (with the stunt crew of course) ever put on film, pushing for more practical stunts instead of wholly relying on CGI (like in most of Fast and Furious).
Given that the title sequence is placed at the beginning, you don’t have to wait too long at the end for the requisite teaser for the next instalment, as we actually (and finally) revisit Tokyo Drift for a slightly different perspective on, well… go revisit that movie anyhow. So, any chance that Lucas Black will be popping up in the next one too? Or will someone else be playing Sean?
Ultimately, you know if you’re going to watch this movie or not. Taken as it is and what it’s meant to be, it delivers where it counts which is the action quotient. The stars do their jobs and embody their characters with an easy familiarity while the newcomers do join in the fun as well. If you put too much brain power into it, you are going to question the logic of some of the scenes (or all of them actually). But really, let yourself go and enjoy the breathlessly thrilling ride.
Rating: 4/5 (just for being exactly what it intends to be)