Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)


To prepare for Fast & Furious 6, I watched the first five series installments in a two week span.  This is neither mentally nor physically advisable.  Some of those ‘films’ are pretty awful (looking at you 2 Fast 2 Furious).  Some are almost not bad (Fast Five).  Normally, a series should be tired and stale by the time it reaches its sixth iteration, but fortunately, the Fast and Furious franchise got its stumbles and mistakes out of the way early with the second and third films.  F & F 6 remains ridiculous in the physics involved but achieves its goal in the thrills department.

Ask your friends and they will probably tell you they like the Fast and Furious movies because of the eye candy.  They’re not talking about the scantily clad ladies bending over the car hoods either; they’re talking about the actual vehicles.  Pristine custom paint jobs, glistening engines, all the bells and whistles you could ever imagine, and loud throttling decibels when someone revs them in neutral are here aplenty for all of the gearheads in the audience.  The cars are usually supporting characters in the films in one way or another.  The cars are here once again, but are more in the background than usual.  This time, the plot is almost about *gasp* characters, but really more about vehicle acrobatics.

Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is back.  Don’t be ashamed if you don’t remember her.  She had a small part in the first movie, popped up briefly in the fourth film and was killed off, and then was the cliffhanger for Fast Five.  She has this mythical status throughout the movies as Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) one and only true love but she has had a much smaller part in the movies than most fans realize.  Maybe you only pick that up if you watch the entire series in such a short amount of time.  The whole gang is brought back again, just like in Fast Five, and this time they employ their respective skills to take down a bad guy, just like in Fast Five.

Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, and Gal Gadot all stop by to collect their Fast and Furious paychecks and say most of the same lines they have said before.  Tyrese is still the worst actor of all of them and that really says something.  He was especially atrocious in 2 Fast 2 Furious when he first popped up yelling, “I’m hungry!” every other line; now he is only severely irritating.  Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is back as the government agent who can coordinate anything and everything at a moment’s notice but this time is on our gang’s team instead of working against them.  Riley (Gina Carano) is his extremely attractive sidekick.  By the way, Carano gets into a hand-to-hand fight with Michelle Rodriguez and if you know anything about Carano’s background in real life, you know she could snap Rodriguez’s head off at any second she chose to do so. 

The ins-and-outs of the plot are not necessary, it is just the filler between car chases, foot races, and eventually, plane chases.  Instead of the same old sequence of one car chases another down a street which should not be used for such activities, now people frequently jump from one car to another, jump from a bridge onto a moving car, or jump from a plane into a moving car.  All of the characters have excellent timing; nobody ever misses.  It would be an amusing wake up if just one person missed once; it would remind everyone in the audience that oh yeah, this is probably not as easy as it looks.

I can forgive the fact that director Justin Lin and writer Chris Morgan did not want to deal with physics in their chase scenes, it makes for better thrills without it.  However, using the extremely lazy plot device of a character with amnesia is unforgiveable.  We all know this is a cheesy franchise to begin with whose sole purpose is awesome cars and what they can do when they race against other awesome looking cars, but amnesia is a new low.  Maybe not 2 Fast 2 Furious low, but low. 

Putting aside the amnesia nonsense, there is a chase sequence towards the end involving a cargo jet.  This is not a spoiler; it is all over the preview.  Taking place on what must be the longest runway on Earth, it is by far the most audacious sequence in any of the six movies.  It is far more effective without physical limitations placed on person, plane, or car during that scene.  It is noticeably a lot of fun.  I became numb after a while to car chases sitting through so many of them in this franchise, but the aircraft sequence is unforgettable.

Take Fast & Furious 6 with a grain of salt.  They have a car chase through the middle of London’s Piccadilly Circus and neither crash into a bus nor run over a pedestrian.  That fact alone is probably more unbelievable than hopping from your speeding car, catching a girl mid-air on a tank, and then landing safely on the windshield of another car.  Everything is over-the-top, loud, and ridiculous…but it is also a pretty good time.  Chalk this one up as a guilty pleasure.      

Directed by: Justin Lin
Written by: Chris Morgan
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Ludacris, Luke Evans, Elsa Pataky, Gina Carano, Clara Paget

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