Monday, June 24, 2013

Movie Review: Fast & Furious 6

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Yes, I have actually watched every single Fast & Furious  movie made to date. No, I still cannot believe that there are currently six movies, with a seventh currently in the works. After watching the third one, Tokyo Drift, I thought the franchise was pretty much dead. When the fourth movie, Fast & Furious, came out, I have to admit that I was pretty intrigued. The first one, The Fast and the Furious, was actually pretty good, and bringing the cast of the first movie back together seemed like it could be a fun watch. Two weeks after the movie premiered, my FiancĂ© and I went to go see the movie. To our pleasant surprise, it was actually really good. The follow up, Fast Five, was also really good. When Fast & Furious 6 was announced, my FiancĂ© and I agreed that we had to see it. Keep reading to find out what I thought of Fast & Furious 6, and whether or not it is worth a watch for car enthusiasts.

Author's Note: This review will contain movie spoilers. If you have not yet seen the movie, intend to watch it, and hate having movies spoiled, stop reading and click on another one of our great articles to read!

The Good

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Fast & Furious 6 continues the story line established by The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Fast & Furious, and Fast Five. During their self imposed exile, Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) comes looking for Dom (Vin Diesel)  and his crew to help him stop an organized crime leader with a specialty in hitting military convoys. The reward for Dom and his crew's cooperation? Full pardons, clearing everyone's entire criminal record, allowing Dom and his crew to return to the United States and home. While I had a feeling the story would end up here at some point, writers Chris Morgan and Gary Scott Thompson did an excellent job with the script. Justin Lin's direction and vision helped visualize the story into an entertaining and action packed 130 minutes.

Starting with Fast & Furious, the franchise slowly began to move away from the illegal street racing aspects of the first three films. I found this to be a welcome change as some of the street racing sequences started to become silly. That is not to say the Fast & Furious, Fast Five, and Fast & Furious 6 did not have street racing elements either, but they were not the main focus of the movie like they were in the first three movies. Instead, the most recent films have more of a "heist movie" aspect to them, where the characters use the cars to accomplish specific tasks (i.e. robbing a drug cartel in Fast Five) instead of just using them to win races. While the racing in the first three films was not exactly boring, the direction director Justin Lin took the recent films is far more exciting.

The characters have also grown quite a bit since The Fast and the Furious, seeming a lot more story driven than just shallow husks of people that care only about "living life one quarter mile at a time." Brian (Paul Walker) and Dom can be seen in the beginning of the movie, picking up from the race that ended Fast Five. The race turns into a heart warming scene with Brian, Dom, and Elena (Elsa Pataky) witness the birth of Mia (Jordana Brewster) and Brian's son. Scenes like this, where you get to see the softer side of the characters, were not that prominent in the first three movies, and are a welcome change to the franchise.

Of course, being a car movie, there has to be nice cars. The one thing I have truly enjoyed about Fast & Furious, Fast Five, and now Fast & Furious 6, is that they have moved away from the street racing, rice rocket cars of the first three films. Instead, you see a lot more classic American muscle cars, vintage rally cars, and even some European makes as well. In fact, an entire scene in Fast & Furious 6 is dedicated to watching Dom and Brian's crew chase villain Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) around London in BMW M5s. Of course, that is not to say Japanese cars are non-existent in the latest three films. Brian can be seen driving some form of Nissan's GT-R in the three most recent films. I guess what I am trying to say is that I really like the fact that they are mixing things up instead of just appealing to one specific crowd. 

The Bad



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While Fast & Furious 6 has a very interesting story line, it would seem the writers and the director have a talent for coming up with fairly ridiculous plot points. For example, it was very well established in Fast & Furious that Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) was very much dead. Yet, in the interest of cashing in on the franchise, the writers bring Letty back from the dead by altering her death in Fast & Furious into her being thrown off a hill from an explosion and her subsequently getting amnesia. I cannot exactly say I was totally behind Letty's resurrection (personally, I think Mrs. Thor, Elsa Pataky is a far better actress than Michelle Rodriguez), but considering the theme of the Fast & Furious 6 is family, I suppose it was bound to happen. 

Image courtesy of Forbes and Universal Pictures
Stunts happen to be another ridiculous point of the Fast & Furious franchise. While they are incredibly entertaining, the stunts can get absolutely ridiculous and have a tendency to defy the laws of physics. Possibly the most ridiculous stunt in Fast & Furious 6 had to be the stunt involving a crushed Mustang flipping a tank, flinging Letty off, while Dom jumps for her and they land together on top of an old Mercedes. Of course, they some how survive. Absolutely ridiculous, right? Of course, there is also the bit during the same chase in which Roman (Tyrese Gibson) jumps from the Mustang that would later get crushed and flip the tank, onto Brian's Ford Escort Mk. II moving at high speed. Some how, Roman lands perfectly on top of the Escort's roof, no scratches, no broken bones. Of course, I know this is a movie and anything can happen, but it still seems incredibly far fetched.

Cars seem to be less the main focus of the Fast franchise as the movies progress. While there are still some incredible cars to see in the movies, much of the time the cars are just sitting still. Sure, they are pretty to look at, but this is an action movie franchise. I want to see the cars racing, chasing, and doing things, not just looking pretty. 

Finally, there is the story. I did say that the storyline was good, but there is one thing that bothers me about the Fast franchise. I definitely understand Justin Lin's desire to continue the story line from movie to movie, but it makes the movies difficult to follow without having seen the previous ones. Even the scene pulled from movie three, Tokyo Drift, used to close the movie might leave some confused. 

Summary

Is Fast & Furious 6 worth the watch for the car enthusiast? Maybe. As the Fast franchise continues to progress, the focus moves more and more away from the cars and focuses more on the story. There are still some fantastic cars in the Fast franchise, but the amount of screen time they get is limited, and sometimes are seen not even moving. If you are looking for a movie that has a high focus on the cars, stick with a movie like Gone in 60 Seconds. However, if you are looking for a movie that is just fun to watch with familiar characters, Fast & Furious 6 is definitely a good choice. This is also the movie you are going to want to watch in order to see the end to Justin Lin's Fast saga, and the beginning of the next.