Review: Fast and Furious 6
PLOT: Dom Toretto and his crew of speed demons have to collaborate with the government to stop of vicious British mercenary from obtaining a powerful weapon.
REVIEW: I'm not quite sure when it happened - it was somewhere between the first big chase through London and the hilarious final moment of an insane tank pursuit - but at some point during FAST AND FURIOUS 6, I let go of my cynicism and overall resistance to this series and just allowed myself to revel in the shameless, escapist fun of Justin Lin's world. At the risk of sounding too much like a blurb on a poster, this movie delivers some high-octane thrills and intensely mindless fun, sporting at least two prolonged action sequences that are absolute knock-outs. The gleeful destruction on hand is exactly what you want a summer movie to provide, and then some.
And imagine my surprise. See, I'm no fan of the FAST AND FURIOUS movies; I've never been able to get enthusiastic over its noisy car races (for me, a car race equals instant sleepiness), nor am I particularly fond of either of its stars, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. Even the last installment, FAST FIVE, which appears to be the agreed-upon champ of the franchise, did not do a much for me, save for that climactic vault-dragging heist.
I'm not certain what changed here that has resulted in me being swept up in Lin's testosterone-fueled craziness; it could just be that those two aforementioned set-pieces are such delirious, chaotic fun that I had no choice but to admire the fact that the creative team has gone into James Bond territory in terms of how large-scale and catastrophic the action is. A sequence where a tank rolls along an elevated highway, coldly smashing up the helpless cars in its path while our heroes attempt to stop it, culminates in a rescue that had the audience I saw the film with in stitches. We're talking gales of laughter and applause, and I was there with them, because at that point the movie truly showed its hand as being self-aware, utterly ridiculous and proud of it. I think previous FAST AND FURIOUS entires have maybe been too caught up in macho seriousness for me to simply have fun with them, but FAST AND FURIOUS 6 dispenses of any false earnestness and goes for broke in all regards.
Don't get me wrong, though, there are still plenty of scenes where Vin Diesel grumbles about loyalty and family and he and Paul Walker stare meaningfully at each other and blah, blah. FAST AND FURIOUS is actually at its most absurd when it's attempting to wring heartfelt moments and sentimentality out of completely one-note characters. FURIOUS 6 attempts to give some significance to the fact that Diesel's once thought-dead lady love Michelle Rodriguez is back in the picture, but working for the wrong team, which conflicts Diesel and urges him to get her back on the right side. But this stuff is fairly unimportant, at least to the casual observer like me, and the movie doesn't dwell on it excessively. Other subplots are just as inconsequential.
The main "plot" is this: Diesel and Walker have to reassemble the team from FAST FIVE again, this time to help Agent Hobbs (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) track down hot shot bad guy Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), who is on the loose in London and using souped-up automobiles to pull off elaborate stunts much in the same way as Diesel and co. Naturally, no government in the world can stop this guy. It almost takes no time at all to convince Diesel, since Rodriguez's character is working with Shaw, but the real kicker is that Shaw is on the hunt for some kind of deadly device that can black out a country for 24 hours; he plans to sell this to the highest bidder. Or something like that. It's not important; this device comes in a metal briefcase and serves as the film's "MacGuffin", meaning it doesn't matter what it actually does, all that matters is that the bad guy wants it and the good guys have to stop him and save the world and all that. (Yes, they went from racing cars in L.A. streets to saving the damn world.)
FAST AND FURIOUS 6 wisely knows how foolhardy it would be to devote too much time into the villain's motives or methods. (You'd think an international criminal like Shaw would want to underplay his devious acts, but no, he's so loud and destructive that you can see him coming a mile away.) It's aim is to keep the audience knocked back in its collective seat for over two hours, and it does so rather impressively. There are multiple fistfights, chases, shoot-outs and about a hundred different shots of cars flying through the air/through a building/off a bridge. The little kid in you - hell, the grown-ass adult, too - will be powerless to resist all this cartoonish mayhem. Perhaps my favorite moment in this movie, and it happens again and again, is the one where a person gets out of their moving-at-100mph-car through the window do either jump on another car, shoot at someone, or both. I swear that happens at least half a dozen times here. I'm never really sure how the car keeps driving, but I assume these guys have provisions for such occasions.
The film builds a stirring momentum and leads to a climactic cargo plane takedown, which is a hoot and a half. Sometimes I was not even sure what the hell was going on in this sequence - Lin's camera is always shaking, the editors have frantically chopped everything up to within an inch of its life - but at various times I saw a plane dragging three cars up in the air, a guy get thrown into the engine, multiple cars zoom in and out of the back, about five different fistfights, and a whole lot more. It's exhausting in just the right way; when it's over you literally have to take a breath and wipe the dopey smile off your face. Hey, that's the kind of reaction you want a movie of this sort to conjure, and FAST AND FURIOUS 6 does it, does it very well