Fast & Furious 6 Review
The Fast and Furious film franchise continues apace, this time swapping the sunny South American setting of Fast Five for dear old Blighty. The series, which can boast worldwide box office takings of more than $1.6 billion, has survived this long on a combination of death-defying stunt work, the implausible abilities of its souped-up automobiles and a healthy sense of its own absurdity. You’ll be happy to know that Fast & Furious 6 provides much the same; the sheer ridiculousness of it all will likely have you laughing raucously from start to finish.
The pre-credits sequence reminds us of the vehicular lunacy that shaped the first five instalments, re-introducing us to Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and former FBI agent Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) via – what else? – a drag race. Also returning is Special Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who first appeared in Fast Five), who tracks down the pair and offers them a proposition: thwart British ex-mercenary Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), intent on “destroying the world”, and they’ll be pardoned for the heist from the previous movie. Initially reluctant, Toretto is swayed by a picture of old flame Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). Presumed dead since the fourth film, it would appear that she’s resurfaced as part of Shaw’s gang, thus forcing the old team to reassemble for “one last mission”.
Reuniting with franchise regulars Mia (Jordana Brewster), Han (Sung Kang), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris) and Gisele (Gal Gadot), Toretto and O’Connor take their search for Shaw to London, where much of the action takes place. Unfortunately, while certain famous landmarks are visible for those in the know, our capital is a far-from-ideal venue when it comes to staging scenes of automobile-related mayhem. Its streets weren’t designed for high speed chases and so they can’t help but feel a little restricted. A couple of well-choreographed sequences in a tube station with new additions Gina Carano (of Haywire fame) and Joe Taslim (The Raid) notwithstanding, Fast & Furious 6 never really feels the benefit of its British setting.
Though sentimentality has never been a strong point of the series, the return of Letty causes it to be turned up to eleven. The explanation as to how she survived the car crash in Fast & Furious (as part four was known) is somewhat confusing, but then we’re not expected to care about the intricacies. It’s merely enough that she can prompt some angst, one very schmaltzy scene with Toretto (she is now suffering from amnesia which has caused her to forget her former love as well as join the bad guys) and still motor along at 120mph with just one hand on the wheel. Which at least gives Rodriguez more to do than the sorely underused Brewster.
You also have to feel slightly sorry for screenwriter Chris Morgan, here given the unenviable task of creating dialogue for a bunch of characters who apparently know little else other than how to drive very fast cars. Much like the last instalment (which Morgan also wrote) the talkier moments are almost inherently cringeworthy and serve only to justify the next bout of action. Of course, those hoping for vehicular carnage are unlikely to come away disappointed. Director Justin Lin (who has been responsible for all of the Fast and Furious movies since part three, Tokyo Drift) seeks to increase the spectacle as he along, forever pushing the boundaries as to what is humanly possible in an automobile or can be achieved when jumping from one car to another. The Spanish sequence, involving a military convoy, is incredibly outrageous and nonsensical, yet only reinforces the idea that these films are now more concerned with being ridiculous than they are with being inventive.
Clocking in at 130 minutes, Fast & Furious 6 really doesn’t warrant such a laborious running time. The finale, which swaps four wheels for an aeroplane and supplies some tag team action between Diesel and the Rock, is as entertaining and engrossing as it implausible, but much of what precedes it simply feels interminable. This latest instalment never quite achieves the heights of Fast Five, while the sentimental undertones of ‘family’ are a little overdone. Still, expect it to do well at the box office and don’t feel too disheartened that the franchise has run of gas: the final scenes offers plenty in the way of interest for the already green-lit Fast Seven, or whatever they decide to call it.