Wow. Where does one begin? The insipid dialogue? Paul Walker’s non-presence? A plot that makes almost no sense? Stunts that defy the laws of physics?
Nah. Let’s start here: I can’t believe how much fun I had watching Fast & Furious 6. Don’t get me wrong. It’s so absurd and stupid that it doesn’t really deserve to exist. On the other hand, it reaches such heights of absurdity and stupidity I kind of admire its willingness to be nothing more or less than a big, brashy, loud, dumb action flick.
After all, it’s summer movie time, right? Why shouldn’t we kick back, relax and enjoy this impossible feat: One character flies at highway speed (and then some) through the air, wraps his arms around another character hurtling toward him at highway speed, and the two of them fall, unharmed, onto a car. The Batman and Rachel Dawes fell through a skyscraper’s window in The Dark Knight and landed safely hundreds of feet below and no one groused (or at least didn’t grouse loudly). Who am I to grouse over a silly stunt that, frankly, looks pretty cool despite its obvious CG-ness?
You should know, I’ve seen exactly two Fast & Furious films. The other is the first, The Fast and the Furious, a barely-written exercise in machismo that tests the audience’s ability to detect the metaphorical turd that has fallen into its giant soda.
Sometime between 2001, when the first film was released, and now, the series acquired a sense of humor about itself and about action movies in general. Does director Justin Lin know his movie is silly? Sure, and he’s willing to be silly in order to thrill and excite.
For those of us who don’t know the film series well, but know that Michelle Rodriguez’ character, Letty, died in Fast & Furious (which is the fourth film in the series), you may have one question: How the fuck is she in this movie, alive, and with the same character name?
As my uncle would say: BECAUSE IT’S IN THE SCRIPT. And also because, as another critic informed me, at the end of Fast Five, the sequel to Fast & Furious, it’s revealed by Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) Letty may have survived.
Don’t kid yourself: None of that matters. It’s about the cars, fights and explosions. And, thanks to Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej Parker (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), it’s sometimes about a decent quip.
The story: Dom (Vin Diesel, who should thank whomever he thanks each day for this film series) and Brian (Walker, ditto) and the gang are coaxed out of retirement by Hobbs to stop Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) from stealing a McGuffin. The carrot: Full pardons for the entire crew. And maybe they can find out what happened to Letty. Boom, crash, you get the idea.
There are some truly remarkable road stunts in Fast & Furious 6. Shaw drives what looks like no more than an Indy car’s frame with an engine and four wheels, but it has a nifty gimmick: There’s a ramp on the front that’s designed to flip other cars that approach it. And man, does it flip other cars, spectacularly and for good reason (so they can crash!).
A nice—or at least welcome—surprise is the existence of a ragged and brutal fight between Riley (Gina Carano, whose character works for Hobbs) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) in a London Tube station. The editing is a little too quick but there are few moments in which we can see Carano’s fighter’s physique putting the hurt on Rodriguez. Sure, they get up and walk away, but the choreography is something to see.
And finally, bonus points to Rodriguez. She commits to a role and plays the hell out of it. I’m already looking forward to Fast & Furious 7.
FAST & FURIOUS 6
Directed by Justin Lin
With Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Michelle Rodriguez
Regal Santa Fe Stadium 14