Thursday, May 30, 2013

Movie – Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

The Fast and the Furious films are one of the rare examples where a series of movies has actually improved from the films that kicked them off, rather than demonstrated diminishing returns with each successive movie.  While Fast & Furious 6 is not quite as good as the previous film (2011’s Fast Five) it is probably the second best movie of the series.  There are even more over the top action stunts, improbable events, and a survival rate that is highly fictional.  All of that is beside the point when it comes to these films, though.  Who actually watches them for reality?  I don’t.  Besides, how can you not love a car chase that includes a tank?

The last film had an additional scene during the credits that teased this movie.  It showed that Michelle Rodriguez’s character of Letty, who had apparently died in the fourth film, was still alive.  It also showed the fifth film’s antagonist – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – teamed with the second film’s antagonist – Eva Mendes.  Combined with the great action in the fifth film, it really stoked interest in Fast & Furious 6.  This has led to the biggest opening weekend of any film in the series.

Just about everyone from the prior films is back, with the exception of Eva Mendes.  For reasons that become clear during this movie, Hobbs (Johnson) has a new partner by the name of Riley (Gina Carano).  The two of them need to stop a professional squad of drivers led by a man named Shaw (Luke Evans) and who better to do that than Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), and their team?  Using the evidence that Letty, Toretto’s old girlfriend, is still alive and part of this squad, Hobbs convinces Toretto to help him.  Using the promise of full pardons for everyone, Hobbs and Toretto get Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), Han (Sung Kang), and Gisele (Gal Gadot) to join them.  Mia (Jordana Brewster) has just had her and Brian’s first baby, so she stays behind.  For reasons unexplained, Toretto’s now-girlfriend Elena (Elsa Pataky) also stays behind with Mia.

Much of the first part of the film takes place in London, with plenty of wild driving on the famously convoluted and choked streets.  The second part takes place on a highway in Spain.  The third part takes place on a runway in Spain that is so long that I think they were in Portugal by the time the scene had ended.

As I mentioned above, the action is over the top and not remotely realistic.  One person actually refers to a car as “breaking their fall” to another person after they hit it at approximately 60 miles an hour after being thrown hundreds of feet through the air.  In this film people routinely survive crashes that would have killed your average superhero.  (By the way, watch for a few Avengers references during the film.  My favorite was Tej’s phone identifying a call from Hobbs as “Samoan Thor”.)  Not everyone makes it through the film alive, but with others surviving worse crashes, and with Rodriguez’s character coming back to life, it’s hard to believe that people are really dead just because this movie says they are.

Speaking of which, don’t leave the theater when the credits start to roll.  Like the prior film there is an additional scene that teases the next movie.   (Yes, there is going to be a Fast & Furious 7).  There are two big things about this scene.  First, it shows you who the villain is going to be for the next film, and it’s a famous face.  Second, it finally ties the third film The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift into the entire continuity.  Han was introduced in that film, but when he showed up in the fourth film with no explanation people were baffled.  The events in the third film would have seemed to have precluded him from appearing at all.  This additional scene finally establishes what people have speculated – that Tokyo Drift actually takes place after films 4, 5, and 6.

I also mentioned above that this series has gotten more entertaining as it has gone along.  The reason for that can be summed up in two words: Justin Lin.  After two forgettable movies, he came on board to direct the third film and with no star power whatsoever actually created a more visually exciting film.  In the fourth film, with the return of many of the people who had been in the movies before, he was able to increase the fun.  That film also pushed the movies into big international heists and big action sequence territory.  Lin peaked with the fifth film where he finally created a “super team” of sorts with the addition of even more former film characters.  And he did not let off the gas much in this sixth movie.  The bad news for fans of this franchise is that he will not be back for the seventh film because the studio is not allowing enough turnaround time between movies.  Rather than taking two or three years like they had in the past, they are rushing the next one to theaters in little more than a year.  Lin couldn’t agree to do that and so he left the directing to James Wan, best known for writing and directing the original Saw film.

If you are looking for plots that make sense, deep explorations of characters’ hopes and dreams, or a life changing experience at the movie theater, then you are advised to skip Fast & Furious 6.  On the other hand, if you are looking for over the top action sequences, some humor, and an even more ultimate team up than the prior films, then this is the one for you to see.  If it sounds like fun then I recommend you give it a try.

Chip’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


  1. Good review Chip. If you know what you're getting yourself into, it isn't half-bad. However, afterwards, I can't say I give you much sympathy.

    1. Agreed. Last night I read a review from a blogger who started out by saying he had never watched any of the movies in this series and then proceeded to trash everything about the movie because it wasn't realistic. Had he seen any of the prior films he would have known not to expect realism.