Justin Lin (director)
Universal Pictures (studio)
130 mins (length)
17 May 2013 (released)
14 May 2013
The Fast & Furious series of films began with a relatively small scale start, charting a conflict and ultimate grudging respect between a cop and a criminal. Five movies later the series has morphed into a global heist adventure with a team of racers whose primary concern is making lots of money.
The franchise stands out from the current slate of tentpole movies in that there are no superheroes or monsters, the world is not in danger. The whole enterprise should be applauded for its multicultural cast. Perhaps the most multicultural of the major franchises alive and kicking today, its a melting pot of characters who bounce hokey dialogue off each other with cheesy charm.
The fifth film in the series turned the franchise into a focused set of adventures with a group of close-knit friends, and the sixth (which is still set before the third film, keep up with me here!) continues this with the goal of finding Michelle Rodriguez's Letty and bringing her back into the family, whether she likes it or not.
The reason for why she's even alive, given her fiery death in the fourth film, is utterly ridiculous. I'm talking daytime cartoon levels of ridiculous, but these movies operate in their own unique universe and you just roll with it, because the film is so damn fun.
Seeing exotic cars race around the cramped streets of London is a sight to behold, you have to give director Justin Lin his due, he makes it work. Our loveable gang of racers find themselves facing off a militant-style villain who has them visiting multiple countries and facing off against a tank at one point. You also have the pleasure of seeing Gina Carano get into a scrappy brawl with Rodriguez multiple times.
I found Fast & Furious 6 as entertaining as the the trailers promised it would be, though the trailers did reveal many of the big moments, so I hope Universal can tone down on that in the future. My fellow audience were seemingly a cynical bunch constantly howling with laughter at the dialogue, but they genuinely applauded several of the insane action sequences, and finally gave an ovation at the end.
Because ultimately they understood that this is a movie that consciously knows exactly what it is, and unlike a few recent blockbusters, is consistent in its story and characters. It's very interesting to see the continuing evolution of this franchise as it continues to bring in more characters, and dispatch some regulars. Make no mistake, F&F6 has some surprises in store for long-time fans.
On the negative side, the second act of the movie drags after a while, which is a common trap in plot-driven action movies, but after stalling things pick up again and stay crazy fun till the post-credits scene, which blew the roof off the cinema.
The Fast & Furious movies are an acquired taste, but I think laughing them off as dumb and irrelevant is a disservice to what Justin Lin has brought to the table. The key thing here is that the movies provide as many practical thrills as they can, admirable in a cinematic culture overrun with CGI, and no matter how crazy the twists and turns are, there is a weird sort of logic to the F&F universe. Basically, I never feel insulted while watching the hijinks of Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel, I feel like I'm in on the joke with them and laughing along.
This kind of balance is not an easy thing to accomplish. Whatever this movie does, it does it properly. Obviously we would all prefer a movie with intelligence and good dialogue, but this franchise works on a simple level that is playful and doesn't necessarily require you to turn your brain off like some other blockbuster movies do. You just need to be open minded enough to accept that the laws of physics will occasionally be broken...