The Fast & Furious franchise is filled with more ups and downs than the career of Ben Affleck. A generally-well received first entry was followed by the universally-loathed, and terribly named 2 Fast 2 Furious, to be followed by the fairly-decent The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift. On its tail was the very bad (and liked by some) Fast & Furious, and coming after that was the completely awesome and generally loved (by fans) Fast Five. With Five, the filmmakers finally found the perfect formula, throwing nearly every major character of the series together into one big heist film, dialing back the street racing, adding The Rock, and mixing in several completely ballsy, muscular action scenes. Fast & Furious 6 continues that formula. If it ain’t broke, don’t tighten the one piston on the engine to fix it (seriously, cars get “fixed” like three times in this movie by someone screwing something).
At the outset of Furious 6, Domic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his team have retired to different areas of the world after their $100 million heist at the end of Fast Five. Brian and Mia O’Conner (Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster) have started a family, Han (Sung Kang) and Gisele (Gal Gadot) are thinking about it, and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris) spend their money lavishly. Before long, Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) tracks down Dom to ask for his help in taking down notorious criminal Shaw (Luke Evans), with one shocker Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), thought to have been killed in Fast & Furious, is alive. That’s all Dom needs to get his family back together to take down Shaw before he endangers millions of people with a Microchip and an Evil Plan.
This is a movie about cars, first and foremost. In that respect, Furious 6 excels. Fast cars of every variety roar across the screen with the support of some extremely good sound mixing and cinematography.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Fast & Furious movie without some of those cars crashing. And crash they do, in some of the most spectacular vehicular action sequences of recent memory. It handily outclasses even the finale of Fast Five, in which a large vault was towed across Rio, leaving massive destruction in its wake. This really is some of the best stunt work involving cars ever put to film. It’s absurd, but executed with astonishing talent. The finale in particular, while absurd and over-the-top, has so many moving pieces and so many fights happening at one time. It’s outstanding and incredibly thrilling.
Fists fly almost as often as metal does, with a handful of spectacular hand-to-hand fights and not one, but two awesomely brutal throwdowns with the two most badass females in the industry, Michelle Rodriguez and Gina Carano. This isn’t about hot catfights; this is about two women that could easily break the neck of most men throwing down harder than anyone else in the film.
On that note, a toast to the filmmakers for making, as Henry J. Fromage put it, one of the most race- and gender-equal action films ever. There are the two aforementioned awesome females, as well as a third awesome girl in Gisele (and my new female celebrity crush), and a very beautiful, warm Mia. Taj is easily the smartest character of the bunch, and one of a very multi-racial, mostly balanced team.
For the reasons listed above, it is gravely important that one not consider the laws of physics or even realism in general, because Furious 6 just does not care. Cars flip spectacularly, things blow up and collapse maybe a bit too much, and most of the entire cast does things that would kill normal human beings. These characters have practically evolved to superheroes on a John McClane scale. But yes, the physics. Filled with enough scientific lawbreaking to send any physics professor into cardiac arrest, Furious 6 is absolutely swimming with insanity. The rest of the plot fares no better, with several threads careening off in convenient directions with no reason why other than Because. Shaw’s plan is a classic “I have this Weapon so I can sell it for Money.” It’s very likely that most of the meat of the plot is a means to set up the next action scene.
“Outrageously macho” is one way to describe the acting in Furious 6. The greasy, alarmingly muscular Dwayne Johnson takes the cake, with more flexing, arm crossing, “son of a bitch”-es, and intense glaring than the rest of the cast combined. That doesn’t mean the rest of the cast doesn’t get in on the glaring, particularly Walker and Diesel. Entire wordless shots are composed of intense reaction shots and stares, couple with some of the worst one-liners and dialogue in action movie history. Some of them are amusing, such as the pair of baby oil jokes directed at Hobbs. Some are terrible, like the reference to Scooby-Doo. All of them are stupid, particularly in the way that screenwriter Chris Morgan has likely never used a computer and has all of the characters say they’re going to “cross reference” something. Cross referencing is to this movie like the ACME Insta-Fingerprint Identification-O-Matic is to CSI. It solves everything.
I give it three beers, but those are three huge beers for people that don’t care for this sort of thing. For fans of the franchise, and Fast Five in particular, this is damn close to everything you want in a mindless action flick. It is so dumb—so dumb. But it’s so much fun for all of the reasons it can be faulted. It’s idiotic, even, but so keenly aware of what this franchise has become that it’s practically endearing. It barrels forward with a gleeful disregard for logic, cohesion, and the laws of physics. And that’s just the way I like it. It’s not good, but it’s a ton of fun.
Take a Drink: Any time a car flips, crashes, or explodes.
Take a Drink: Each time a piece of scenery or prop is smashed during a fight.
Do a Shot: Each time you see the red double-decker bus during the London chase.
Take a Drink: Any time two characters try to out-macho each other.
Do a Shot: For every dramatic glare.
Chug Your Beer: Longest. Runway. Ever.