Full disclosure: Before sitting down to watch Fast and Furious 6 tonight (Or as it says in the credits: Furious6) I had only ever seen the original The Fast and the Furious way back in June of 2001. I have tracked the series from a far over the years through friends and co-workers who have been fans, so I have a working knowledge of the events that have led us to this film, and I’ve seen bits and pieces here and there when it plays bi-weekly on the FX cable channel, but tonight was the first time I’ve sat, in a theatre seat, and watched an F&F film since the very first one.
I think that was the best possible way to go into this film. About 10 minutes in, when Dwayne Johnson’s character slams an equally beefy villainous fellow, first against the wall, then up through the ceiling and finally down through a heavy oak table in the interrogation room of a police station, it hit me: Oh wait a second, I get it now, they’re Superheros, not actual human sized people. Back in the first film, the plot revolved around underground and illegal car races in Los Angeles. Paul Walker was a cop sent in undercover to bust a hijacking ring led by Vin Diesel’s character. Gone is the mere human scaled racing plots, even though the film does pay service to its past by working in a street race between Diesel’s Dom Toretto and returning star Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty that quickly forgets all about the racing part to focus on more personal moments, which is fine. The series has taken on an almost mythic quality at this point and though fast cars and very dangerous driving figure into the plot, the clunky call backs to the underground racing plots of the past feel shoe-horned in and unnecessary to the story.
The basic story is this: Super villain Owen Shaw and his elite team of criminals are going around Europe stealing all the different pieces to assemble a super weapon called Night Shade which will render any Country’s defense and communication systems dark for 24 hours. He has all but one piece now and Interpol agents, led by Luke Hobbs (Johnson) are closing in and are running out of time. As Hobbs Tells his new partner, Riley (series newcomer Gina Cerano), “You need wolves to hunt wolves” so they go to convince Toretto and his crew to help them find Shaw before he completes his final theft. With Toretto and all the members of his crew living separately in different, non extradition Countries, this could be problematic. Hobbs shows Toretto the one thing that will make him take the job: a picture of Letty who is supposed to be dead, working with Shaw. This simple but effective framework in place, the film is free to hit the gas and the ride has begun, or as Sherlock used to say, “The game is afoot”.
The assembling of the crew again in this story feels almost like an Avengers level event. The film does nothing to disabuse the audience of each members individual super power. They each get their moment to shine and every single moment they do is a complete blast. The basic laws of physics are broken so many times, it’s not even worth pointing out. A particular moment involving a Tank, a car being drug behind said Tank like an anchor, and a character flying through the air in one direction, catching another character flying in the other direction and both smashing down onto a wrecked car made me both roll my eyes and cheer at the same time. Its that kind of film.
As I stated in my Coming this weekend column, I have a special love of watching Gina Carano kick people in the face and she does not disappoint. Her mid film brawl with Michelle Rodriguez was worth the admission price alone. That is another thing I noticed coming back to this series after so long. There are a lot of one on one fights. They are always epic and some are just pure fun to watch. Watching Vin Diesel and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson team up to take a giant bloke Apart makes me want to see them both sign up for a future Expendables flick. That just hit an action film sweet spot that I didn’t even know existed.
I’m not sure if I’m expressing this point clear enough, but I had fun with this film. This is the kind of action movie that Summer was meant for. In Summers past, this would have been the wildest and craziest film of the year. With Man of Steel and Pacific Rim still to come, I’m not sure if that is the case this year, but it is a film I will be seeing again in the theater and I will be revisiting once it hits Blu Ray in a few Months. I said this in my Coming this weekend column, but it bears repeating here. There is a law of diminishing returns with sequels, and once you get to the sixth film in a series, the best is usually far behind. I mean, do you remember how great Friday the 13th part 6 or Paranormal Activity 5 were? No. No, you do not.
All kidding aside, this series does indeed seem to get better with each installment. Even if we didn’t know that Fast and Furious 7 starts shooting in a few weeks for release next Summer, the end of this film, while not quite ending on a cliffhanger, does set the stakes and the stage for the next (and rumored last) film in the series.
I can say with all honesty that I will be there for the first showing next year. I’ll have my popcorn and my soda and I’ll be ready to take another ride with this crew. This is what a popcorn film is supposed to be. Its fun and its action packed. Should I close with the obvious? Of course I should. Its fast and its furious. And I am completely on board.
5 out of 5 Stars. Awesome.
Until next time, keep the projector threaded.