Movie Review: Fast & Furious 6
By Matthew Huntley
June 3, 2013

Why Rock, what big muscles you have, she said hungrily.

As a fully loaded action movie, there’s nothing terribly special about Fast & Furious 6. It’s well made and delivers on all fours, but it doesn’t exactly stand out among others of its kind, and I don’t just mean the other F&F movies, but any loud, testosterone-driven action flick with souped-up stunts, extended chase sequences and walloping fist fights. But then, why should I expect it to be drastically different? Movies like this are made for audiences who know exactly what they want and who will keep paying to see them so long as the studio keeps making them.

On the other hand, when you consider Fast & Furious 6 is the sixth installment in this unsinkable franchise, it’s sort of remarkable it’s still able to be this good. And by “good,” I don’t mean it pushes any cinematic boundaries, but rather that it’s fun and entertaining. There’s something to be said for a movie that keeps a 12-year-old popcorn series going strong.

I’ll not go to the trouble of catching you up to speed on the entire F&F saga (the opening credits take care of that in a matter of minutes); odds are if you’re reading this review you already know what it’s about and how the racially and ethnically diverse characters are connected. All you need to know is the gang is all here: Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker), Mia (Jordana Brewster), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), Han (Sung Kang) and Gisele (Gal Gadot). Otherwise known as “the team,” this group of fearless individuals has evolved from mere street racers into professional stunt people, not to mention highly specialized computer and auto engineers. Nothing seems to shock or scare them and nothing seems too high-tech, dangerous or insurmountable.

That’s probably why Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) of the Diplomatic Security Service recruits them to thwart an international criminal named Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), an ex-British soldier who’s planning on stealing a billion-dollar computer chip that would allow its owner to disable an entire military grid. Of course, the chip only serves as the movie’s McGuffin; we all know it’s really about the action.

Shaw and his team have already taken out a Russian convoy and his work tells Hobbs and his new partner Riley (Gina Carano) that Dom and his team are the best men and women to take him down. Normally Dom and his crew, themselves criminals, would dismiss the idea of helping out the authorities, but Hobbs reveals that Dom’s old flame, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who was supposedly killed in Fast & Furious (2009), is alive and well and a member of Shaw’s team. This is the point where “things get personal” and suddenly everybody is on-board, although they still demand a full pardon for their past transgressions. As for Letty, she’s apparently amnesic and doesn’t remember who she is, let alone her relationship with Dom. But she can still drive and kick butt with the best of them.

And so the movie goes through its standard motions - a fight there, an explosion and chase scene there - and solidifies The Fast & the Furious franchise as a member of the action-adventure-heist genre instead of the narrower street-racing one. It’s sort of Mission: Impossible or Ocean’s 11 on steroids, and just like those movies, Fast & Furious 6 is light on story and character development but heavy on stupendous action sequences. There are three really big ones that take up quite a bit of screen time, especially the climax, but they’re undeniably pulse-pounding and surprisingly coherent, if a tad too long. How much of a role director Justin Lin played in their execution versus his second unit team, who’s to say, but whatever the case, the movie lives up to its promise of being an explosive extravaganza.

Another plus is that however ridiculous the underlying material may be, the filmmakers manage to take it seriously as far as entertainment goes, meaning they don’t skimp on the goods (or budget). The action scenes aren’t half-baked or so implausible they lose credibility within the movie’s own world; they are intense, energetic and exciting, with big visual and aural payoffs.

With this in mind, even though I continue to like the F&F movies, I’m cautious about future installments (Fast & Furious 7 is already slated for a July 2014 release) because it means each sequel will presumably get less and less fresh. Granted, the series could take on the qualities of James Bond and potentially go on forever and ever, but even if its quality was to remain high and its profits large, would we really want it to go that route? For the sake of it ending on a high note and keeping good will with its audience, and in the interest of variety and moving on, I think “the team” should retire before it’s too late or before we get bored. How about instead of giving fans what they already know they want, the filmmakers brainstorm and give the audience what they don’t know they want, at least not yet. Perhaps that could be the start of a new franchise that actually stands out among its brethren.