Back in 2001, who among us thought that the wheels of the ‘Fast and the Furious’ series would still be in motion twelve years later (with a sixth entry with the seventh entry being released in Summer 2014)? The best way to enjoy ‘Fast & Furious 6’ is to pretend that it is a sequel to ‘The Avengers’. Newton’s Laws of Motion may not have any bearing here, but it doesn’t need to if we can accept that this movie is essentially a live-action cartoon (albeit a very good one). If you can leave your critic’s brain at the door, I think you will find yourself (as I did) having a tremendous amount of fun. Contradictory to the laws of probability as well as the laws of diminish returns, this is a series that is picking up a great deal of momentum (with this picture and the last one), and ‘Fast & Furious 6’ is my personal favorite in the series. This is spectacular summer entertainment! I have no reservations in saying upfront that I love this movie!
Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and Dwayne (formerly “The Rock”) Johnson feel the need – the need for speed. Taking up where ‘Fast Five’ left off, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), and Dominic ‘Dom’ Toretto (Vin Diesel) are enjoying the fruits of their labour from the previous heist that made them and the rest of their crew fabulously rich. All retired, Brian and Dom receive a surprise visit from Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) with a proposition to stop an ex-military terrorist from getting his hands on the last piece of a powerful weapon he’s going to use on the world. Soon, the entire team is reunited. Most of the picture’s comic relief rests of the shoulders of Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris. There is also a new member – a CIA operative played by Gina Carano. She could send The Rock home crying after a fight. No, really! Luke Evans is fine as the villain, but these special ops turned ruthless crime lord types are starting to become a cliché.
Does the story really matter? The plot is just at the service of the revved-up engines and adrenaline-pumping action sequences. If you’re on the lookout for sharp dialogue, and fine performances, well, what the hell are you doing at ‘Fast & Furious 6’? This is about color, movement, technique – and on that basis, it operates terrifically. Despite pretty much hating the first four entries in this series, the opening credits (which plays off well on the nostalgia factor for fans of this series) made me realize how much I’ve grown to enjoy these characters; yes, even when they talk about the importance of family, and working as a team (usually exchanged over the obligatory barbeque montage which has become a staple of this series). Also, the picture’s notions of masculinity would make Howard Hawkes blush.
Whether we are looking at stunt-work, CGI, or a combination of the two, director Justin Lin (who worked on two other films in this series – ‘Tokyo Drift’ and ‘Fast Five’) raises the bar with one action sequence following another and another… If you’re laughing at the movie, I can almost guarantee the laughs are intentional – the vehicular manoeuvrings are impossible (and just before the end credits, we get a disclaimer stating that the stunts should never be replicated by the viewers). Humans fly in the air, land on hard surfaces with very loud thuds, and just brush themselves off and carry on with only a few bruises – like I said, this is a cartoon.
One thing that needs to be said about ‘Fast & Furious 6’ is that it is, by far, the most honest movie of the year. It has no delusions of grandeur; it knows exactly what it is and fully embraces the ridiculousness of it’s gleefully over the top ever-escalating action sequences. This includes an OMG finale that I won’t even begin to describe – except that it involves a number of four-wheelers, a cargo plane that is about to take off, and four-wheelers contained within the cargo plane. Most action pictures make the choice of delivering sensation at the expense of characters and plot – I’m not saying that ‘Fast & Furious 6’ is an exception to this category; but I am saying that Mr.Lin has done an exceptional job in crafting a motion picture experience that is among the best of its kind. Even among the hardest of cynics, I defy anyone to come out of this movie saying they were bored.
Despite its 130 minute runtime, this was a movie that does not wear out its welcome; I didn’t want to see it end – a joyous experience that you could file under “Guilty Pleasure”. Except that I won’t. I feel no guilt in giving ‘Fast & Furious 6’ a very strong endorsement. This is the sort of picture that demands to be seen on the big screen. Thankfully, the movie is not in 3-D. QED.
Starting today (and going forward), I will include a ‘Three to See’ section at the bottom of my reviews, which list out my three favorite movies playing in theaters (or that are newly available on DVD/Blu-Ray).
Three to See: ‘Fast & Furious 6’ (Wide-release), ‘Lore’ (TIFF Bell Lightbox), ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ (Cineplex Yonge/Dundas, Famous Players Canada Square, Magic Lantern Carlton Cinemas)