FAST & FURIOUS 6
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
Vin Diesel as DOMINIC TORETTO
Paul Walker as BRIAN O’CONNER
Dwayne Johnson as HOBBS
Jordana Brewster as MIA
Michelle Rodriguez as LETTY
Tyrese Gibson as ROMAN
Sung Kang as HAN
Gal Gadot as GISELE
Ludacris as TEJ
Luke Evans as SHAW
Elsa Pataky as ELENA
Gina Carano as RILEY
Directed by: Justin Lin
BY KEVIN CARR
For me, the “Fast & Furious” franchise is like the acting career of Justin Timberlake. I wasn’t particularly wild about where it started, but I do like where it’s going. Who knows, in a couple more films, I might be a die-hard fan.
You see, I was never wild about the original trilogy. The first film was fine, but far too macho and muscle-flexing for my tastes. The second film was terrible, which is what happens when someone like Tyrese Gibson takes the lead hero reigns from someone like Vin Diesel. “Tokyo Drift,” which is the greatest departure for the franchise, was downright awful and an embarrassment, in my opinion.
Heck, even when “Fast & Furious” came out four years ago, I wasn’t wild about it. I liked the return of the “original parts,” but Justin Lin still had some growing up to do in terms of storytelling and maturing from an adolescent fantasy film. The series didn’t really start to gel until “Fast Five,” when it pretty much abandoned the outlaw street racing angle and decided to become a bizarre spy flick.
“Fast & Furious 6” is easily the best of the franchise and the most fun. Also, unlike “Fast Five,” its leaps in logic feel more genre related than just dumb decisions by dumb characters.
And then there’s the action. I can’t dispute the awesomeness of the safe chase at the end of “Fast Five,” but things were stepped up quite a bit in “Fast & Furious 6” with a one-two punch of solid action set pieces, one including a tank and the other including a plane.
This installment of the franchise picks up at the end of “Fast Five.” Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) tracks down Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and convinces him to help take down an international arms dealer name Shaw (Luke Evans). The bait for this is the revelation that Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is still alive. Toretto assembles his team, and they go on a high-octane European race to take this guy down.
In a strange way, the things that would hold back a movie like this seem to be the greatest assets to it. There’s an almost unmanageable number of characters in the film, but this works in its favor because there’s very little time to reflect on how two-dimensional they are, with the focus shifting so much. There are a few diversions, including Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) having to track down a former bad guy in jail, but I can excuse that, considering director Justin Lin was obviously kowtowing to the fans with that little bit.
There are the same problems in the film that bothered me when I saw it in the theater. The street racing sequences is painfully forced, just to get the shots of scantily-clad ladies dancing by cool cars. (Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of scantily-clad ladies, but these scenes are just getting old.) Some of the acting is terrible, particularly from our would-be Wonder Woman Gal Gadot, whom I’ve never liked in the franchise beyond her being easy on the eyes.
At least the acting vacuum of Tyrese Gibson is buffered with comic relief, and that makes things work.
In the end, “Fast & Furious 6” is a great action film and a lot of fun. It’s fast food cinema, or should I say fast and furious food cinema?
The Blu-ray comes with an extended cut of the film, which has the same running time but features more graphic sound and a few scraps of dialogue. Exclusive Blu-ray features include the featurettes “Take Control,” “Hand to Hand Fury,” “Gearhead’s Delight,” “The Flip Car” and “Planes, Tanks, and Automobiles.”
Features also included on the DVD comprise deleted scenes, feature commentary with Lin and two featurettes: “On the Set with Vin” and “The Making of Fast & Furious 6.”
There’s also a bittersweet sneak peek at “Fast & Furious 7,” which has been forever altered due to the untimely death of Paul Walker. I’m not sure how this will work into the final film, but being that it takes place at Han’s funeral, it’s a bit rough to watch Walker and Gibson’s characters comment on how there has already been too much death. That’s sad to watch now.