Every single time a Fast and Furious movie ends with the “Do Not Try This At Home” slide, I can’t help but wish they’d put a “wink” at the end. I mean, who doesn’t walk out of that theater wanting to do a couple donuts in a Denny’s parking lot on the way home. Being the owner of a not-so-maneuverable Volvo Stationwagon, I narrowly resisted this temptation. Dominic Toretto can have his American Muscle, I guess I’ll take my Swedish safety standards for now. Vehicular fantasies aside, there are few if any franchises that have matched The Fast and the Furious’s ability to rebound. For a series to not only come back from the edge of death but to come back in a way that sets the bar for the entire franchise higher than ever before is one of the biggest pleasant surprises the Hollywood sequel machine has ever produced. The nature of sequels usually creates a slow, steady decline in quality and profitability with each additional film, but last summer Fast Five proved that the trend could be bucked in both areas with a firm understanding of what people actually want from the franchise. As a result, most of the movie going world looked Fast & Furious 6 not as an obligatory add-on but as a source of curiosity as to whether or not the last movie was some happy accident or the start of a new era for the Fast & Furious franchise. It may not be quite the game changer that the previous movie was, but a combination of hyper-masculine humor and some of the most incredible action sequences I’ve ever seen make Fast & Furious 6 into one hell of a ride.
The Plot: 6/10
Hobbs has Dom and Brian reassemble their crew in order to take down a mastermind who commands an organization of mercenary drivers across 12 countries. Payment? Full pardons for them all.
The best action movie plots are the ones that don’t get in the way of what people actually came to see; attractive people running away from explosions in slow motion. In this area, Fast and Furious 6 is a bit too ambitious for its own good. The switch from back-alley heists to international crime does a lot for the scope of the movie’s action, but it complicates the story a bit too much for its own good. The movie tries to fit in a lot of different angles on top of the central “Search for Letty” story line, and all of those angles start to weigh on the movie’s pace by the time the final showdown arrive. Bottom line, the movie could have and should have been about 20 minutes shorter, but at the very least it ends on a very exciting note that may make you forget about the 130 minute run time when you walk out of the theater.
It should also be noted here that I haven’t seen Fast & Furious (aka number 4), and while I was able to follow along most of the time, there were a handful of scenes revolving the Letty back story that I had to rely on context clues to understand.
The Writing: 7/10
On top of the venue change and the introduction of new characters, the biggest factor that made Fast Five such a breath of fresh air was the improvement in writing. The characters aren’t exactly fleshed out but they really shouldn’t be in this case. The movie occasionally tries to explore the more tender side of Dom and Brian from time to time (complete with horribly cliche Spanish guitar music) and in some cases, a few of the characters even begin to feel slightly more than two dimensional. Sure, none of those characters are anything new or exciting, but they at least feel like real people enough for the audience to care if they live or die.
Character development aside, the film’s dialogue is what really puts the writing above a barely passable level. Each character has their own role in the group, and the banter between everyone involved can be almost as fun to watch as the car chases at times. In this way it’s not the characters themselves that make the movie fun to watch as it is the way that they play off of each other, and as long as the franchise keeps backing up its crazy stunt work with amusing dialogue like this I will continue to come back for more. Just so long as people keep making fun of Tyrese Gibson; I doubt that will ever get old.
The Acting: 6/10
Everybody here is pretty much exactly the same as they were in the last movie, so I’ll use this section to focus instead on the new additions. An action movie is only as strong as its villain, and that’s one department Fast & Furious 6 absolutely delivers on. Shaw as a character might not be the most compelling bad guy ever, but Luke Evans does a spectacular job at playing him as cool, confident, and ruthlessly efficient. To be fair, his accent does about half the work, but I’ll take it. I really liked the clash of “codes” between his precision-based approach and Dom’s family based one, it reminded me of just how fun the criminal vs. criminal set-up can be.
The other person I’d like to point out is one that very few reviews I’ve read so far have thought much of; Gina Carano as Riley. Now I know that Carano’s not exactly Best Actress material, but the sheer brutality she developed in her career as a female MMA fighter makes her an absolute joy to watch in any fight scene she’s in. There are a few of “Badass” female characters in the movie, including the ever-popular Michelle Rodriguez, but none of them feel quite as capable as Carano does when it comes to stunt work. I also like the fact that she’s not the typical skinny-ass Tom girl type that usually gets placed in the touch chick role, she’s got the sort of muscular build that leaves no doubt in your mind that her real life ability to beat the crap out of you.
The Action: 10/10
With all of the content featured in the trailers, a perfect score here should hardly be a surprise. A lot of money went into the action sequences in this movie, and it was incredibly well spent. There are about four different car chase sequences that rank among the best I’ve ever seen, with one in particular likely taking the top spot. As you can imagine, that scene is the final runway chase involving a cargo plane that makes an AC-130 look like a bath toy. As a fun fact, I recently saw an analysis of that scene which calculated that with the speed the plane was traveling at combined with the length of that scene, the runway in question would have had to be over 28 miles long (the longest in the world is under 4 miles).
Even with a perfect score in this category, though, I have to admit that there is one scene involving Vin Diesel and a mid-air rescue that completely jumps the shark. I’m pretty sure the intended reaction was “Ooh”s and “Ahh”s, not “Ha”s and “Ha”s as was the actual result in the theater I was in.
The Verdict: 7.5/10 – Good
+ Absolutely spectacular action sequences that raise the bar for the entire franchise
+ A great amount of humorous banter between the main characters
+ Solid villains that feel like credible threats
– Action movies like this really shouldn’t ever be longer than two hours…
Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
The Devils’ Advocates: 4.5/5
Cinematic Katzenjammer: 7.9/10
Tims’ Film Reviews: 78%
Amonymous Reviews: 3.5/5
Black Sheep Reviews: 3.5/5
Keith and the Movies: 3.5/5
Fast Film Reviews: 3/5
The Filmster: 3/5
Average: 7.0/10 – Good