Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson
Directed by: Justin Lin (“Fast Five”)
Written by: Chris Morgan (“Fast Five”)
In his fantastic “How Did This Get Made?” podcast, comedian Paul Scheer referred to “Fast Five” as “‘Ocean’s 11’ with Axe Body Spray.” As hilariously apt as his description was, “Fast Five,” even with its innate cheesiness, was ultimately a pretty decent and entertaining film, ushering the transformation from a series about street racing culture to a full blown heist movie. In this installment, tables are turned and Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and their gang work with the law to help bring down a criminal. Clearly, this ain’t your slightly older brother’s “Fast and the Furious.” So strap on your seat belt, tighten those spark valves and crank that motor rotor, cause here comes “Fast and Furious 6.” (Sorry, I know nothing about cars.)
After the events of “Fast Five,” the crew has spread out and is living their lives in luxury. Things change, however, when Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) pays a visit to Dominic to recruit him and his team to help take down an international criminal. While Dominic resists at first, Hobbs convinces him by showing photos proving that his presumed dead ex-girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is still alive and working for the criminal. To rally around Dom, and to get their full pardons to allow them back into the U.S., Dom, Brian and the rest of the crew team up with Hobbs to catch the bad guy.
It is no secret that Diesel is not the world’s best actor. Joining him this time around is MMA fighter Gina Carano (“Haywire”), who while kicking plenty of ass in her hand-to-hand combat scenes still hasn’t figured out the whole acting thing either. Together they form a duo with the acting ability and personality of a bag of lugnuts. Since the film does a fair amount of globe and character jumping, the structure leaves a never-ending string of peripheral characters without anyone truly taking the spotlight. Johnson, who we are apparently not allowed to call “The Rock” anymore, is one of the characters who stands out above the rest, displaying the charisma that gave him an entrance into the acting business in the first place. Also making an impact is Tyrese Gibson, who is fed virtually every humorous line in the script and delivers each of them well.
From the opening credits, which include a montage of scenes from the previous “Fast and Furious” films, it is clear that “Fast and Furious 6” serves to tie the franchise together. It’s certainly an interesting decision for a series of films that wasn’t exactly begging for more in the way of a true anthology. While it isn’t necessary to re-watch (or even watch) the previous films, “Fast and Furious” historians (Fastorians?) should be pleased with unanswered questions being paid off.
The script for “Fast and Furious 6” is a disaster. Sure, people don’t really go to see a “Fast and Furious” movie for whip-smart dialogue, but when Rodriguez’s character tells a bulky meathead who is part of Team Muscle, “Don’t make me go over there and make you Team Pussy,” you can’t help but sigh in disbelief. The previously mentioned constant jumping around to characters couples with a boring story to construct a film that is clearly only there for its action pieces. And those action scenes are about what you’d expect – a car that flips over other cars; a tank that drives on a highway and pancakes cars in its path; and plenty of fight scenes. The problem, however, is that the majority of the bigger sequences feature stunts and action beats that are entirely implausible and unrealistic. Play a game with your movie-going friend and count how many times you say, “Oh, come on!” over the course of the film.
Without question, “Fast and Furious 6” caters to its audience, so if you stuck with the film through it’s first five installments, you should know what you’re getting into. It’s loud, completely brain-dead and lacks the set pieces and tension that made “Fast Five” a success. Even with a certain amount of suspension of disbelief, “Fast and Furious 6” sets new levels for absurdity in its action sequences. Regardless, there’s an audience for these films, and with the 7th installment already teased, casted and in pre-production, don’t expect Diesel and company to drive off into the sunset anytime soon.