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Overall Rating
3.67

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look73.33%
Average: 23.33%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 3.33%

4 reviews, 6 user ratings


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Fast and Furious 6
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by Peter Sobczynski

"With Six, You Get Incalculabe Vehicular Mayhem"
4 stars

Imagine a group of young boys on the edge of adolescence who are still young enough to be playing with model cars and dreaming up elaborate scenarios involving them but old enough to start appreciating certain attributes of the opposite sex, though the scenarios in this regard may not be quite as elaborate. Now imagine giving those kids millions of dollars to capture all their gearhead fantasies on the big screen, no matter how lunatic, in one loud and lurid package. That, in essence, is what "Fast & Furious 6" is presenting to viewers--an action extravaganza so wildly over-the-top that Luc Besson might be inspired to remark "Oh come on. . ." at more than one point. And yet, it reaches those extremes in such a cheerfully ridiculous manner that only a complete churl would object to it too strenuously and lets face it, if you are a complete churl and are watching this movie in the first place, you pretty much deserve everything that is in store for you.

Of course, if you haven't actually watched any of the five previous installments in the franchise, you may be at a bit of a loss this time around because not only does "Fast & Furious 6" assume that you have seen all of them, it assumes that you have seen all of them approximately 14 minutes before watching this one in order to better keep track of the multiple storylines, the ever-expanding cast of characters and the increasingly frenzied efforts to somehow tie the generally unrelated "Tokyo Drift"--pretty much the "Halloween III" of the "F&F" franchise--into the overriding mythology and yes, I realize that I just invoked the word "mythology" in a discussion of the "Fast & Furious" saga. Suffice it to say, it opens with federal agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) arriving one the scene of an attack on a military convoy in Moscow that has left millions of dollars in property damage in the streets and at least one car dangling out of a third floor window. While you and I might immediately suspect Freebie and/or the Bean were on the loose, Hobbs is far too clever for that and, with the help of brilliant new partner Riley (Gina Carano), he deducts that it is the work of a team of vehicular madmen led by former Special Forces expert Shaw (Luke Evans) and that he is targeting hard-to-acquire components that can be put together into a dirty bomb that can be sold to the highest bidder.

Working under that time-honored belief that it takes an international crew of criminally-minded gearheads to bring down an international crew of criminally-minded gearheads, Hobbs hits upon the genius idea of tracking down Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel)--the very same guy he tried and failed to bring to justice in the previous installment--and attempting to recruit him and his entire crew to use their skills to help bring Shaw down. He finds Dominic quickly enough in the Canary Islands, where he and new girlfriend Elena (Elsa Pataky) are living with his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), his partner/brother-in-law Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker), their newborn son and their share of the $100 million they nabbed off of a ruthless drug lord the last time out. Not surprisingly, Dominic has little interest in helping Hobbs until the cop hands over one surprising bit of information--Shaw's second-in-command appears to be none other than Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who is not only his former love but who appeared to have been killed off sometime during the second reel of the fourth film.

With that incentive, not to mention the promise of full pardons all around, Toretto and Brian get the key members of the band--Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Han (Sung Kang), Gisele (Gal Gadot) and Tej (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges)--back together again and they are off with Hobbs and Riley to London to bring Shaw and his gang down. Their first attempt is more or less a disaster that sees Shaw eluding capture by bringing down an entire garage and wreaking havoc on the streets behind the wheel of a flip car that sends anything it hits hurtling into the air and a new weapon that messes up the computer systems of opposing autos. On the bright side, Toretto does run into Letty--okay, she nearly runs him off the road approximately seventeen times and then shoots him for good measure--but it turns out that she has amnesia and doesn't remember him at all.

From this point on, the plot gets a little ridiculous as the gang tries to figure out a way to beat Shaw and his group at their own game before he can get a hold of the missing part, Toretto keeps following Letty around in the hopes of getting her to remember him and Brian returns to America and get himself thrown into federal prison--though just for a few hours--in order to confront the mad crime boss from the fourth film (at this point, I am just too tired and lazy to look him up) about what really happened to Letty and why she is working for Shaw. Of course, this is all prelude to a series of increasingly elaborate vehicular set-pieces that feel like a fusion of the letters sections of Penthouse Forum and Popular Mechanics in terms of sheer outrageousness. One involves a high-speed freeway chase involving cars, trucks, impossible heights and even a tank while the finale finds the gang hurtling their cars down (and occasionally dangling over) what appears to be the world's longest runway in order to stop Shaw's flight to freedom. There is also an extended fight sequence featuring a knock-down, drag-out brawl between Letty and Riley and while I am not necessarily one to fetishize the notion of two women rassling around and such, I can assure you that nearly every pre-adolescent boy who watches it is going to feel funny in the bathing suit area afterwards. Probably a lot of the post-adolescent ones as well.

Yes, it is all preposterous beyond belief. Of course, a certain degree of preposterousness is pretty much expected from most summer blockbusters these days and anyone going into a multiplex during the season has to either make allowances for such outlandish concepts as superheroes with incredible powers, time travel and the alleged likability of Vince Vaughn or resign themselves to simply watching "Before Midnight" over and over again--not that there is anything wrong with that, of course. That said, "Fast & Furious 6," to borrow a phrase that is used so often during the proceedings that it should be considered the film's mantra, takes it to the next level in such an extreme manner that the end result is a virtual skyscraper of cinematic silliness that either raises or lowers the bar considerably for such things, depending on your point of view.

Under normal circumstances, one might expect the sixth entry of a franchise to be a lazy piece of hackwork--perhaps even one going directly to video--featuring a trite storyline desperately trying to repeat elements that worked before and a cast featuring a couple of unimportant supporting characters from the original at most surrounded by a new cast of characters that it is impossible to work up much interest in. Hell, even this franchise has been guilty of that from time to time--"2 Fast 2 Furious," in which only Walker returned from the wildly successful original, was a hacky bomb that remains the low point in the series, "Tokyo Drift," which featured a whole new cast save for a cameo from Diesel during the end credits, was admittedly entertaining but it left the franchise with a series of loose ends that it is still trying to tie up and "Fast & Furious" apparently spent so much time and energy to bring the whole gang back together that it had nothing left to give to the movie itself.

On the surface, "Fast & Furious 6" may appear to be just another piece of absurdly expensive cinematic eye candy along the line of the "Transformers" films and its ilk. However, what sets it apart from those monstrosities is that it applies a certain sense of style to the proceedings that enhances things greatly. The stunts are as outlandish as can be but instead of trying to make everything cartoonish--which would just become exhausting after a while in the wrong hands--director Justin Lin (who has directed every film in the series since "Tokyo Drift" and screenwriter Chris Morgan wisely approach the silliness in a straightforward manner that allows the deliberately earnest performances and pseudo-profound dialogue to come across in a far more entertaining manner than it might have had everyone insisted on reminding us that they are in on the joke. Not only does it find the right tone, it pretty much maintains it throughout, which is very important because if there was ever a moment in which the film ever commented on its own implausibility or displayed any overt sense of self-awareness, the whole thing would collapse quicker than Wile E. Coyote finally looking down after going off the side of the cliff.

The film also pulls off another delicate balancing act in regards to its cast. More so than practically any other major film franchise that I can recall, the "Fast & Furious" films are a level playing field in which characters of both genders and any number of ethnicities--Caucasian, African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Israeli and whatever the hell Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson are--are given both equal footing and a chance to show their stuff. This, I think, is one of the keys to the continued financial success of the series and it also helps set it apart from other films of its sort in the ways that the different characters play off of each other--Johnson's lighter touch complements Diesel's more overtly tough approach as well as Walker's cheerful blandness while the supporting characters get more to do than, say, the supporting crew in the new "Star Trek" movie. Returning to the fold after a slight case of death (a trick that she pulled off last year with her surprise reappearance in the last "Resident Evil" film), Michelle Rodriguez fits so comfortably into the proceedings that it hardly feels as if she has been away. Among the newcomers, the standout of the bunch is clearly Gina Carano, the former MMA champion who made a memorable film debut as the badass heroine of Steven Soderbergh's "Haywire." Between that film and her work here, it is clear that Carano has what it takes to be a star--she is tough enough to hold her own, sexy without even trying to be and has loads of charisma. Therefore, it is too bad that it seems that she won't be around to make the already-announced "Fast & Furious 7" but then again, to quote another superior sequel, "there are always possibilities."

"Fast & Furious 6" is pure lunacy from beginning to end (and even beyond, thanks to a post-credits blurb that sets up part 7 and seems to finally put the whole "Tokyo Drift" madness to a definitive end) and I am not ashamed to admit that I found myself easily succumbing to its brand of hard-driving nuttiness. Unlike most of the other big-ticket blockbusters of the year to date, it includes a sense of fun along with the pyrotechnics and when it is all over, it makes you want to go out to the parking lot and start burning rubber while dreaming of somehow replicating the jaw-dropping stunts. That said, it should be stressed that doing such a thing would be bad and indeed, there is another end title card admonishing viewers from even thinking about doing anything along those lines. As for those of you who prefer the idea of picking a fight with Gina Carano, the end result would probably be the same--a collection of broken bones and an extended stay in Comaland--but at least in that case, you will probably also be left with a smile on your face.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=22651&reviewer=389
originally posted: 05/24/13 06:14:48
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User Comments

8/02/14 The king these movies are beyond retarded 1 stars
1/18/14 mr.mike More of the same, with cheesy CGI and stunts. Good ending tho. 3 stars
10/24/13 Bernie High Octane Thrill Ride. One of my favorites this summer. 4 stars
6/26/13 Jesse Zuno It was pretty good. I wish they developed the villain a little better. 4 stars
5/27/13 jamiebraun worth seeing. decent car chases. lots of action, but not enough blood 4 stars
5/26/13 Philip Splendid action set-pieces and a great ensemble cast. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  24-May-2013 (PG-13)
  DVD: 10-Dec-2013

UK
  N/A

Australia
  24-May-2013
  DVD: 10-Dec-2013


Directed by
  Justin Lin

Written by
  Chris Morgan

Cast
  Vin Diesel
  Paul Walker
  Dwayne Johnson
  Luke Evans
  Gina Carano
  Jordana Brewster



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