Fast & Furious 6 | Justin Lin | May 24, 2013
It still blows my mind that the Fast & Furious is hanging around. What is even harder to believe is that the series has somehow found ways to drastically improve from the cheesy, yet somewhat self serious first film, that came out way back in 2001. The series has been spun into the right direction thanks to director Justin Lin, who has transformed the series into arguably one of the biggest franchises of all time. 2011’s Fast Five was a pleasant surprise that saw the series take on a new approach with an action-heist film direction, with nods to the street-racing seen in the previous installments. Fast & Furious 6 continues this trend, and it gives us plenty of action and thrills that are so over the top that you have nothing else to do but eat it up.
Is it possible that this series has transformed itself from providing mediocre entertainment, to some of the most thrilling action movies of recent memory? Yeah, you better believe it. The film opens with an ode to some of the best scenes of the prior films in the franchise, signaling the end of sorts for directer Justin Lin who isn’t returning to the sequel that is insanely set to come out just next year.
We pick up right where we left off from Fast Five. After their successful heist in Rio, the gang is hiding across the globe in places where there in no extradition. Brian (Paul Walker) is now a father, which brings the connection to Mia (Jordana Brewster) and Dom (Vin Diesel) to fill circle. They’re truly family now, and with lots of money at their disposable, they find way to enjoy their lives, even if it means that they can never go back home. That is, until Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) comes back to them, this time in need of their help. He’s in hunt of former British Special Forces soldier Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) and his crew who have access to a device that can shut off the power in any region if they so desire. Shaw is just as skilled in vehicular warfare as Dom’s crew, which is large in part to their recruitment of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). This shouldn’t be a spoiler or a surprise, as her return from “death” was well advertised in the trailers and clips from the film. The return of Letty is what Hobbs uses to catch Dom’s attention and to recruit the crew. He offers all of them full pardons for their crimes if they help bring down Shaw, which would allow them to return home.
As you can tell, the series is no longer about a group of young street racers. The Fast franchise made the turn to a full out crime capers with the previous installment, and they keep it going at full speed here. All the main players are back: the fast talking Roman (Tyrese Gibson), the slick loveable Han (Sung Kang), his love interest, Gisele (Gal Gadot), and the witty Tej (Ludacris). They team up with The Rock and his new partner, Riley (former MMA fight Gina Carano). This cast is tailor made for a series like this, and it’s a pleasure to see them all return.
Fast 6 works so well because it knows exactly what it is. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. Rather, it knows its totally over the top and is aware that they don’t follow the laws of physics. But when a film is so self-aware and so ridiculously fun, how can you not just sit back and enjoy? There are some brilliant action sequences here, and just enough cheese in between all of it that reminds us of all the great action flicks of the 90s. It’s full throttle entertainment that really has been elevated to levels that none of us saw coming back in 2001 when these guys were just racing for pink slips.
As long as you go in knowing what type of film you’re going to get, you will have a blast. The action is there, and there are a few nods to the street racing nature of previous films. But make no mistake, this is a grand scale action flick that is gloriously unashamed of itself, and this allows for multiple opportunities of thrills and greatness that caught me by surprise. While the cast may not be an Oscar class, they are picture perfect for this series. You can’t imagine the film without any of them. It’s amazing what the inclusion of The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) has done for the series. He instantly has given it a new feel and energy, I can’t imagine these films being as solid as they are without him.
Looking back from afar and seeing the connecting thread that Justin Lin and the producers made with these series is pretty astounding. They connect all the dots from all the previous installments, even Tokyo Drift, which appears a few years after the events of all the other films. Things come full circle by the end of the film (stay after the credits) leaving room for even more sequels, and possibly the most exciting villain yet. People are still surprised that this series is alive and kicking, but it’s just time to accept it and embrace it. Fast & Furious has become the ultimate guilty pleasure that isn’t quite so guilty anymore. I’m a little worried about the future now that Lin has left, but I’m confident he left the series in a good place for horror director James Wan to take over.