Fast and Furious 6 - Review by Stu

The year is 2001: Limp Bizkit is wowing people with lyrics that don’t make a lick of sense, Starbucks is marching over Australia like it’s Poland and two plucky up-starts have just graced the screen in a blatant rip-off of Point Break. Little did we know then that twelve years later, The Fast and The Furious would have spawned five sequels (with at least two more in the pipeline) and amassed a devoted base of followers. 

This month, Fast and Furious 6 cruises into cinemas, with its usual array of big men and even bigger cars, and proves yet again that this franchise is best described as lovably shameless. The film walks the line between parody and sincerity and somehow gets away with it. The stunts are massive, the acting is hammy but it never takes itself too seriously and it knows it’s as shallow as a car park puddle. 

I’m not exactly up-to-date on the comings and goings of the franchise. I’m pretty sure the last film I saw was Tokyo Drift. That being said, it didn’t take long to be brought up to speed: the opening credit sequence is a straightforward re-cap, in the vein of a television show like Baywatch or The A-Team; perhaps a tad too long but effective in educating me in what the state of play is.  Basically the boys have gone from being humble street racers (in the first instalment) to being called up by Interpol to chase a band of international terrorists led by a former SAS officer. After a short retirement, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is forced to get the band back together after receiving a mission from Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). The mission is complicated by the fact that Toretto’s wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is in cahoots with the baddies, even though she was presumed dead in the previous film. Once the team is assembled they head off to London, hot on the heels of chief antagonist Shaw (Luke Evans). The supporting cast were led by Tyrese Gibson (Roman) who was responsible for the comic relief; his banter with Hobbs is exceptionally funny. Also returning for the film are Jordana Brewster (Mia), Sung Kang (Han), Gal Gadot (Gisele) and Ludacris (Tej). It’s a simple set up and in keeping with the simple storytelling style of the franchise. 

Once the team touch down they’re immediately involved in an encounter with Shaw and his team of drivers, with less than impressive results. They are forced to head back to the drawing board to work out how to bring Shaw down. This is where the film started to wane for me. The film gets bogged down in exposition and unnecessary plot lines. We are told that the team only has 96 hours to complete their mission, (which is fine because it raises the stakes and injects an element of tension), yet we witness some glaringly implausible decisions, given the time constraints, that make absolutely no sense plot-wise. For instance, Brian (Paul Walker) travels from London to Los Angeles so he can sneak into a prison in order to speak with an inmate about the villain, whilst at the same time, the other characters in the group are receiving the same information through others means. To make matters worse, when Brian returns to London he is told to keep the information to himself, which renders the whole sequence unnecessary. It chewed up so much screen time and I suspect that it was only done to keep up the steady stream of cameos from previous films. 

The action set pieces are fantastic throughout this film. This is director Justin Lin’s fourth film in the series and he manages a great balance between traditional stunt work and computer-generated material. My only real complaint with the action was a short sequence in which Toretto heads into the heart of London to find an underground street race (which provides all the imagery of women in short shorts and boob-tubes that you’ve seen plastered all over the marketing for this film – it wouldn’t be a Fast and Furious flick without it, apparently). Toretto then races Letty through the city, weaving in and out of traffic and various obstacles. As a race it made no sense thematically and as a spectacle it has been done better earlier in the series. The last two action sequences of the film have their fair share of jaw-dropping moments. One takes place on a highway and the other on a runway. The latter must have been shot on the world’s longest runway; it went forever and must be seen to be believed!

Whilst the film lags in the middle forty minutes, I had a bunch of fun with it. For fans of the series there are plenty of cameos and call backs to the previous instalments and all the big muscle car action you desire. Make sure you stay for the credits as there is a teaser for a new character being added to the franchise for episode 7 (which hits theatres next year). Based on the choice of new recruit, I think the Fast and the Furious series has plenty of fuel left in the tank.


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