DO YOU LOVE FAST CARS!?!?! DO YOU LOVE CRAZY ASS STREET RACING!?!?! DO YOU LOVE HARDCORE GANGBANGERS AND DRIFTING AND STICK SHIFTS!?!!?!? Well then this film isn’t for you. Granted, this pitch could be presumed to have been the hook for the first film in the franchise, which featured Paul Walker infiltrating a crew of street racers who moonlight as thieves. Given the success of the film, a sequel was inevitable. And by “a” sequel, I mean infinite sequels. Just how many films can you make about illegal street racers? Not many, but you could manage it if they parlayed their driving skills into the most convenient criminal career of all time. Knowing how to use NOS has allowed them to take down drug dealers and complete a million dollar heist. Sequel escalation being what it is, by the time we arrive at Fast 6 , the only thing left for the protagonists to do is become the Mission: Impossible team. No seriously, the plot of the film is DDS Agent Hobbs (The Rock, who’s incorrectly billed as the fictional “Dwayne Johnson”) offers all of the protagonists full pardons if they can take down an international mercenary and his gang,who were responsible for the theft of a BILLION dollar macguffin. Because lord knows that nobody in the American government could handle a whip like Tyrese.
The plot device of recruiting blue collar guys to do high profile missions is oddly reminiscent of Armageddon, where NASA needs to take out an asteroid “the size of Texas” with the aid of miners, since apparently astronauts are pussies who could never grasp the specifics of making holes in things. I can see the appeal of these plots: doesn’t every Joe Sixpack want to think he could save the world if given the chance? In Fast 6, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), vaguely-ethnic uneducated gang banger that he is, can beat up martial artists, survive leaping out of cars, and outsmart criminal masterminds. Talk about starting from the bottom.
As expected, there’s not much to comment on character-wise. As a neophyte to the franchise, I can’t determine how consistent the characters’ portrayals are compared to previous films, but I can call em how I see em:
Vin Diesel is gruff, basically Riddick with a hemi.
Paul Walker is surprisingly demoted to extra, having a pointless subplot and barely any action scenes. He’s the Eddie Winslow of Fast 6; a former main character who becomes nothing more than some dude for Vin Diesel’s Steve Urkel to talk to. I’m surprised they didn’t pull an Iron Man and just replace him with a cheaper actor (yea, I just dissed Don Cheadle,what of it?).
Tyrese Gibson channels his inner Bojangles and becomes the (insert racial epithet) that everyone laughs at. This makes sense given that in 2 Fast 2 Furious, he was the minority replacement for Vin Diesel. Having both of them in the same film forces the character to differentiate himself, if not necessarily in the most PC way.
Ludacris (incorrectly billed as “Chris Bridges”), having had the role of token black guy stolen from him by Tyrese, is officially the tech guy, being inexplicably able to jam cell phones and power up a grappling hook with NOS. Whatever.
The Asian guy from Tokyo Drift is in the film too and i don’t care. Seriously though, he doesn’t do a damn thing, he doesn’t even know martial arts, making his existence incomprehensible to me.
There’s also a chick named Giselle I think and she dates Han I think and I still don’t care.
Michelle Rodriguez as Letty continues to be the least hottest Latina in Hollywood, narrowly beating out the woman who played George Lopez’s mom. And no, she’s not a good enough actress to avoid being judged for her looks so be quiet feminists.
Gina Carano manages to make up for Rodriguez’s lack of hotness as a busty DDS Agent working with Hobbs.
And speaking of Hobbs, THE ROCK IS IN THIS FILM! I never saw Fast Five, so the idea of the Rock being in the series still makes me mildly excited. He spends the entire film being commented upon for being as big as a house, which is pretty understandable since he’s as big as a house. I don’t think he can even put his arms down anymore.
The bad guy in this film is played by Luke Evans who…is a bad guy. Honestly, having watched Oblivion and Iron Man 3 recently, i’m kind of burnt out on generic villains and his character, Owen Shaw, is not even worth commenting upon. I really think that a casting agent heard his British accent and said “that’s all I needed”. And that’s the whole gang.
The most obvious reaction most people will have to this film is, “How the fuck did we get here?”, and i can say that I know that feel. I’ll be honest, the only film in the series i saw before this was 2 Fast 2 Furious (speaking of which, i’m disappointed in the sixth installments lazy name; I guess a sixth sequel doesn’t lend itself to title puns). As such, I don’t care about the progression of the franchise personally from its humble beginnings to its current state. As a movie goer though, i have to say that this film is over the top by any standards. The guys at Spill.com aptly deemed it “The Avengers with cars” due to the sheer balls out action that occurs. One of the coolest scenes in the film involves the bad guy fleeing his base with a souped up F1 racer with a scoop in the front to send opposing cars flying.
At one point, the Rock actually jumps out of a moving car onto his car in order to stop the guy. Shit like this will probably be the biggest point of contention for most moviegoers, since the action is almost jarringly ridiculous. Earlier in the film, The Rock destroys an interrogation room beating some guy up, but no one even calls him out on it. Vin Diesel manages to launch himself out of a crashing car in order to rescue someone in midair, his fall broken by a car windshield. Anything resembling real life has completely left the franchise.
This is exacerbated by heavy use of CG during the film’s climax, which arguably would be too much by MICHAEL BAY standards. The tonal progression of the series is similar to Pirates of the Carribean which has had similar criticisms of “jumping the shark”. The first film focused on choreographed swordplay and some mild mystical elements. By the last film, Jack Sparrow’s fighting a squid man on the mast of a ghost ship caught in a whirlpool caused by a Rastafarian sea goddess while holding said squid man’s still-beating heart. I’m surprised Sebastian the Crab doesn’t appear on the ship and sing a rousing sea-ditty.
Like Pirates, Fast 6 elicits the same reaction from me: fair enough. At the risk of sounding common, I actually liked that the Pirates series kept upping the ante; that’s honestly the only thing left to do in sequels. The film’s weren’t based on a series of novels, they originated from a children’s ride at Disney World. Calm the fuck down, critics. There was no story beyond “Jack Sparrow fights ghost pirates”. Likewise, The Fast and The Furious was based on a magazine article on illegal street racing. The fact that screenwriters managed to stretch that out as long as they had is remarkable in the first place. Film sequels often fall into a narrative form of the scientific ‘Anthropic Principle’, specifically that “For any given story, there exists basic elements that are required for the story itself to happen, or there would be no story. In other words, there is no “resolution” without “conflict“. (definition courtesy of tv tropes). Most filmmakers don’t intend for sequels to be made, so rarely do films not resolve their conflicts. Therefore the very existence of a sequel is predicated on willing suspension of disbelief. How could Letty in Fast 6 become an amnesiac due to a point blank explosion yet still retain all of her driving skills? Because Michelle Rodriguez needed the bail money, that’s fucking why!
The world demands sequels to be made, and outrageous plots are often the only things that can make them happen. The Fast and the Furious series will only continue to become more and more ridiculous, and god bless it as far as i’m concerned. While i don’t particularly care for the series, I respect its tenacity. With this in mind, go see Fast 6 if you want to sea a triumphantly ridiculous action film. If that doesn’t sound like your thing, sit at home and knit (because you’re a woman).