“Fast & Furious 6” – Review by Daniel Rester

Fast & Furious 6 Review

by Daniel Rester

             We’ve come a long way since basic L.A. street races and DVD jacking, things which highlighted the film The Fast and the Furious back in 2001. Who knew that the first entry would have multiple sequels following it? The first film will always be special to me in ways because it was one of the first “car films” that I really got into – though I acknowledge some of its obvious flaws. And though the sequels that have come along have been more hit-and-miss, I have remained a loyal fan to the series.

I’m also somewhat glad that the filmmakers started taking things a bit less seriously and instead focused on the fun-factor for the newer films, Fast Five (2011) and now Fast & Furious 6. The series seemed to be sinking a bit with its second through fourth installments, but Director Justin Lin (who has directed since the third film) made a wise decision to mix things up and make things more over-the-top and exhilarating. The change has been fresh and entertaining thus far, with the movies now less self-serious and more focused on wild action. While making everything more ridiculous — and bringing in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and providing action-movie storylines (less street racing-focused) – is great for audiences just looking for a check-your-brain-at-the-door good time, it’s still the key returning characters (now with long pasts) and their family-like ties that keeps things rewarding for fans like myself.

Furious 6 finds Dominic (Vin Diesel) and Brian (Paul Walker) again caught up in a situation with DSS agent Hobbs (Johnson). This time, the walking tank needs their help in taking down Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), a former Special Forces soldier now pulling off heists in order to steal specific device parts – which could make him a billionaire. Part of Shaw’s gang, though, is Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who was presumed to be dead. This puts Dominic and Brian in an odd situation. Because of it, they round up the gang from Five and decide to help Hobbs.

Plot is second-in-line here, though I wouldn’t call it completely useless. The film actually does make a lot of connections to previous entries (including an interesting end-credits sequence that will please long-time fans), but it doesn’t push aside newcomers either. Also, the inclusion of Evans as Shaw and the ass-kicking Gina Carano as Hobb’s assistant doesn’t hurt either, adding a bit more to the by-the-numbers action story.

Still, the important stuff here isn’t story layers or Shakespearean dialogue or acting, but rather insane action sequences. And boy are they exciting. With welcome European locations, car crashes and hand-to-hand fights aplenty, and even a tank, the film provides tons of thrills with its sights and sounds. Lin directs everything expertly as well, never seeming to rely too heavily on CGI (or it’s just too smooth) or Bourne-like cuts in displaying things. A few moments do go a bit too far and would obviously leave characters dead (especially a scene that has Diesel flying through the air). But there are also moments that go a bit old-school, such as a nice old-fashioned street race that takes place in London. However, the majority of the action is both ridiculous and eye-popping in a good way.

The returning cast here is game as well. None of the acting is very strong, but it services these movies well and most of the characters are likable. Diesel, Johnson, and Walker are solid in the front, while supporters like Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, and Rodriguez deliver enough as well. Gibson and Bridges add a lot of comedy relief, while Rodriguez and Carano have a couple of impressive throw-downs.

Furious 6 is brought forth with a knowing-exactly-what-it-is formula, which makes things more entertaining and forgivable when all of the unbelievable, physics-defying action starts happening. It also always has some crazy tricks up its sleeve and never loses an ounce of energy. With Lin dishing things out in such ways, it elevates the movie from the level of trash. This is because it never pretends to be anything significant or artful, but instead succeeds at just being breathlessly entertaining in what it is.

One will know if he or she likes these kinds of films or not, though. It definitely isn’t something that can hold strongly against certain criticisms if someone choses to apply them. But as mentioned, it works for what it is. And as a fan I wasn’t disappointed, and I look forward to further installments — so long as the series maintains its entertainment level and ends within a couple of films.

           

Rating: 3 out of 4 stars (Grade Equivalent for Me: B+).

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