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Fast & Furious 6 Review: Cars Go Vroom Vroom, Boom Boom, Now With Extra Smashy Smash

By TK | Film Reviews | May 24, 2013 | Comments ()


fast-furious-6-cast.jpg

Oh, where to begin.

Let's zip through the plot first, shall we? Fast & Furious 6 -- you know they mean business when they drop the definite articles and swap in ampersands -- finds series protagonists Brian and Dom living the sweet life as millionaires (after stealing $100 million and wrecking most of Rio) in South America with Brian's wife/Dom's sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and Dom's new lady friend Elena (Elsa Pataky). Of course, their opulent retirement is short-lived when secret agent man Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) shows up at their door asking for help in tracking down and apprehending some sort of super criminal who specializes in cars and guns and fancy technological doohickies and the fate of the world is at risk and blah blah. The hook is that the delightfully evil Owen Shaw, criminal mastermind and Legolas doppleganger, has enlisted the help of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Dom's girlfriend from the first couple of films who we thought died back in Fast & The Furious: No, The Other One, Dumbass. Dom gathers together his old crew, including Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Han Seoul-Oh (Sung Kang), Gisele Yashar (Gal Gadot), and Tej Parker (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges). Oh, and there's also Hobbs's new sidekick, Riley (Gina Carano).

What follows is... I don't even know where to begin. Fast & Furious 6 has one of those plots that's both jaw-slackeningly stupid while also being needlessly and excessively convoluted. Shaw and his crew of cold-blooded psychotics will stop at nothing to find the final component for their super-Maguffin, while Hobbs, Dom, and Brian must relentlessly pursue him through a combination of street smarts, detective work, fist- and gun-fights, and of course, a crap load of sweet, sweet rides. The story is dizzying and aimless, leaping from location to location, never staying in any one place for enough time for you to catch your breath.

As for the acting? Well, the ever-sneering, monotone gravel-gargling Vin Diesel's expression never changes, except that sometimes his mouth widens (slightly happy) and sometimes his lips purse (angry -- grrrr!) -- traits compounded by the fact that his voice never changes pitch or volume, ever, regardless of whether he's chasing his long-lost-love or brawling with bad guys. The personality vortex known as Paul Walker is even worse -- his dude-bro surfer boy good looks do nothing when his sole expression change consists of the occasional upturned mouth or forehead crinkle. The other characters, don't acquit themselves much better, though I'll always enjoy the opportunity to see Gina Carano kick someone's stomach into their esophagus. Unfortunately, Johnson suffers from a clinical case of grimness -- his firmly set jaw and perma-scowl compliments his tiresomely gruff demeanor and dead-eyed stares, but given Johnson's decent comedic strengths, it might have been nice to see him smile or crack a joke that wasn't about breaking someone in half.

The comic relief is instead left up to the shuck and jive duo of Gibson and Bridges, making for some rather unfortunate stereotyping. Of all the characters, they're given the least back story or emotional resonance (Han and Gisele are in a relationship and trying to decide on their future, Dom broods over Letty, Brian worries about Mia and his new baby son, etc.), and as such, their comedic stylings often fall flat. Similarly befuddling is the fact that over the course of these movies, Bridges's Tej has gone from prodigious auto mechanic to astonishing, Q-level genius who can instantly understand and operate any kind of technology. But at least it gives him something to do, as opposed to Gibson who simply cackles and aw-hell-naws his way through the film, blithely oblivious to the gaping hole in his soul that renders his character useless and dull.

OK, stop. Let's wait a second.

Folks, I apologize. I truly do, because the fact of the matter is -- you don't really care, do you? Do you? Because I've seen all six of these movies and truth be told, if I didn't have to write about it, I wouldn't care either. I certainly didn't care during the bloated, ultimate destruction disaster that was Fast Five, and Fast & Furious 6 makes that film look like a goddamn wheel-less go-cart race for narcoleptics. There are two kinds of people in this world -- those who have no time or interest in the Fast and Furious franchise, and those who love the vroom-vroom, smashy-smash explodiness in spite of itself. Because while there are all of those elements that technically make it a movie -- you know, plot, dialogue, actors -- it's not the weak, idiotic story that you're there for. Or rather, it shouldn't be what you're there for. Watching the actors ineptly stagger through their weighty, overwrought dramatic scenes is merely the painful interlude between action scenes, and it is there that Fast & Furious 6 shines.

The film's action sequences and set-pieces are exercises in the ridiculous. They're loud, insanely unrealistic, and filled with such overwhelming bombast that it's nearly headache-inducing. But mother of God, they are fun. Once you accept the fact that the physics of the real world no longer applies to this franchise -- that two people can leap from moving vehicles, intersect in mid-air, and land safely and UNHARMED on the hood of a moving car, or that a car can get rear-ended by a tank and still have a solid four or five minutes for the driver to formulate a plan -- just after the tank is seen effortlessly reducing every other car it strikes into a metallic paste-- once you accept these things, then all that's left is to sit back and enjoy the spectacle. For the love of God, Diesel drives a car through the nose of an exploding C-130 cargo plane -- and doesn't even limp away, but rather casually struts his marble-mouthed ass down the runway. The car chases in the film are breathtaking, a testament to Justin Lin's skill as an action choreographer (he also directed the two previous entries). Curiously, Lin is also a skilled dramatic director, as his early film Better Luck Tomorrow indicates, but with these meatsacks he appeared to not bother and just skipped to blowing shit up.

What also makes the action work is a refreshing lack of CGI, something that has plagued some of the earlier F & F films. When it's used, it's used sparingly and integrated seamlessly, and as such the hijinks are all the more entertaining, even if they're fundamentally unbelievable. What really stuck with me is the absolutely unfathomable disregard for human life, something that came into play in Fast Five as well. As the good guys and bad guys careen through city streets or highway overpasses, they destroy everything in their path without a blink or a glance backwards. The loss of the lives of innocent bystanders must be staggering -- cars are crushed, hurled off of bridges, buildings collapse, bridges explode -- it's completely out of control. There is a scene where probably 90% of the London Interpol officers are killed, and it's barely referenced in the next scene. That's what takes the film out of the realm of realism and into pure escapist, video-game fantasy. There are never any real repercussions for any of their actions, even as they destroy half a city chasing two vehicles.

Fast & Furious 6 really is just Fast Five turned up to eleven. Same characters (with more characters from the other films popping up), same issues with authority, same kind of heartless criminals, same gonzo car porn and masturbatory explosion exercises. There's little thought put into anything besides the next action sequence, but there's no denying their wacky, brutally violent beauty. The film is ultimately a hollow, sweaty (dear god, there is so much sweating) shell of a film wrapped around a series of disasters that in the real world would end up with our characters tried in The Hague. But damn if it doesn't entertain -- as long as you acknowledge that after all of the boom-smash-vroom, you're likely going to be a little stupider.







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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Mr. Magoo

    Is it actually called a Maguffin or was that a misspelling (should be MacGuffin)? If it was called that, I find that funny. If it was a mispelling...not so funny. If you call something stupid, you gotta spell thing correctly.

  • I saw this movie in a packed house Friday night. The cameo at the end made the audience explode. Screaming and cheering. Everybody leaving the theater was almost dancing with giddy joy. I can't wait for the next one.

    &7

  • Strand

    Remember seeing the first movie opening night when no-one knew what the fuck was up and afterwards, everyone was revving in the car park. It was amazing. I still blame it for all the stupid neon light/big spoiler/ugly sticker phase that followed though.

  • blacksred

    balls to the walls fun! I thought the movie was awesome for what it was!

  • Subtitle: The franchise that's way beyond reviews.

  • BlackRabbit

    Ah, Gina Carano. They should just make her a package deal with the Rock. Like Laurel and Hardy but with boobs and scowling and ass-kicking.

  • BlackRabbit

    And a followup remark after having seen it: Dear Godtopus, Vin Diesel has sold his soul. I was watching him "act" and all I could think of was Jaws. "He's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be living.".

  • Fabius_Maximus

    So, this franchise gets a pass, while the Transformers movies don't?

    Odd. Don't they follow the same principles of "film" making?

  • Strand

    There's still a world of difference in quality between the two franchises. The TF movies are a tonal mess, they jump from stupid slapstick straight to "America under siege" with civilians getting wiped and enslaved. The FF movies never take themselves too seriously and are painfully self-aware.

    On a purely technical standpoint, the FF movies are superior. The Transformers movies let CGI doing the heavy lifting, whereas the FF movies still use actual locations and stuntwork. They're both stupid franchises, but whereas I can laugh along with FF, I just sigh at every time TF insults my intelligence with jive-talking 'ghetto' robots, wrecking ball testicles or leg humping.

  • Strand

    I love these stupid movies. I watched the first one as a teenager with my high school buddies over a decade ago and to this day, we get together every time one of these FF movies comes out even though everyone's mostly gone their own way, have partners, careers and children to look forward to.

  • I'm right there with you. I remember when the first one came out and saw it once in theater. Then I wore out the DVD and kept on going as each sequel came out. Tokyo Drift almost completely killed it for me (same with Eva Mendes in the second one), but 4 was a great revival and 5 was even better. I think 5 was more put-together (if you can believe it) than 6, but goddamn, it was a lot of fun.

  • Don't want to be a d'ck but

    Um. The Canary Islands are not in South America. I wasn't sure either. I had to check Google Maps first.

  • Brittany

    So this film, which is dumber than a box of rocks, boasts five significant female characters, while the latest Star Trek film, a franchise whose cornerstone is equality and diversity, features only two?

    Huh.

  • Andrew J

    Okay for someone who's whole purpose was to be a dick about the franchise.. The first movie was call "the fast and the furious" the fourth movie was called "fast and furious." Is it really that hard you pompous ass?

    Having said that, the movie was dumb fun in that it was really dumb but really fun. Also if you were confused by the plot, I think I know why the title thing confused you

  • Lauren_Lauren

    Too much extra smashy smash will do a number on your waistline.

  • A. Smith

    The movie is insane. I think the best way to describe it is that it's the Bad Boys II of PG13 movies. Action is absurdly over the top, the callbacks are such that if you haven't seen the past movies you might be scratching your head and the premise is such that if you think too long you'll literally be suffering a migraine. Point is watch it for the action, gorgeous women kicking ass and muscle cars doing insane stunts.

    Also, ymmv but it really seemed that whoever wrote the script surely went out of their way with the Avenger references, especially toward Johnson (almost like it went out of its way clumsily winking at Marvel).

  • calliope1975

    Just saw it and loved it. Check your brain at the door, strap in, and enjoy the ride. I love that it has the most diverse cast and the most insane action/stunts. And with the tag we got in this one, I'll be anticipating #7.

  • the dude

    I think that a film can be whatever it wants to be, even if dumb&fun is what it wants to be. I find it much worse when films betray their roots and audience, as was the case with the hangover 3. Seriously, don't watch it, go watch FF6 twice or something.

  • Thanks for this. I almost went and saw The Hangover III. Dodged a bullet on that one.

  • Arran

    "Fast & Furious 6 really is just Fast Five turned up to eleven."

    That's all you needed to say, really. IN.

  • Michelle

    This review is just too fantastic.

  • simplysarah

    I'll watch it when it comes to TBS. I still need to see the last one. They all do blur together but it has a very pretty to look at cast, so I'll eventually watch it.

  • Mrcreosote

    I'm waiting for the end of the last film of this series when they pan out...to two 9 year olds and a boxful of Matchbox cars.

  • Michelle

    I sincerely hope that happens.

  • AngelenoEwok

    Seeeeeeriously considering seeing it while my husband hits the blackjack tables this weekend.

  • I enjoyed the shit out of this review, BTW. This line:

    "a car can get rear-ended by a tank and still have a solid four or five minutes for the driver to formulate a plan"

    pretty much sums up the entire franchise for me. Can't wait to watch it on Blu Ray.

  • Ohhhh, no. You're not going to get me again, Pajiba. THIS IS A FAKE MOVIE REVIEW YOU GUYS! THIS FILM DOESN'T EVEN EXIST!

  • googergieger

    I'll tell you what was fast! The audience running out of the movie theater five minutes into the movie! And I'll tell you what was furious! The audience running out of the movie theater five minutes into the movie!

    I don't know.

    *walks away*

  • Natalie Loren

    "Fast & The Furious: No, The Other One, Dumbass."

    Favorite.

    Also? Best review ever*

    *this month

  • Yocean

    Because I was so upset with the very end I am spoiling it.

    Absolutely NOT. Don't be an asshole, Yocean. Seriously. -TK

  • yocean

    OK. Non spoiler, It was a fun, though improvably ridiculous movie till end and I was deeply offended by the ending. Is that vague enough? I am just really really upset with what they did. It was akin to seeing your hope for humanity smothered to death in front of you.

  • I want to like TK's edit, but not the actual comment.

  • Big Softie

    Hangover Theater Movie of the Year.
    I don't know what I hate more - this movie
    or the fact I already know I'll see the next one.

  • lowercase_ryan

    But is it something I can take my mom to?

  • L.O.V.E.

    I already took your mom Fast & Furious 6 times last night.

    Zing!

  • E Robb

    And she thought it was a dumb, trite, low brow, and overlong experience.

    Wait, what are we talking about?

  • L.O.V.E.

    don't be petty Robb, just because I took your mom out to a nice seafood dinner and never called her again doesn't mean you need to besmirch l_r's mom like that.

    (ahh, nothing like juvenile mom jokes to put me in the right frame of mind to enjoy an F&F movie)

  • lowercase_ryan

    Dorothy Mantooth is a SAINT!

  • L.O.V.E.
  • lowercase_see

    Wait. Wait wait wait. Hold up. Okay.

    Han Seoul-Oh? Is that a joke? I have never seen these films, so that's a serious question.

    ... oh. Yeah. That's real. Thanks, Google. I'm gonna go eat my entire Expanded Universe collection and hope the ink kills me.

  • His other alias ("Han Lue") is mentioned more than the Seoul-Oh name, which may be a "fuck you" to the police more than anything.

  • BWeaves

    Yes, it's a joke. It's the character's name, not the actor's name.

    The sad part is, I didn't even notice it when reading the review, until you brought it to my attention and I had to go look it up.

  • lowercase_see

    Use the Google, Luke.

    I'm gonna go Wookie wail all over the office.

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