Did anyone ever think that The Fast and the Furious would spawn five sequels and turn into a multi-million pound franchise? No, probably not. Then again, there is an apparent need for mini-skirts, large rims, wild paint jobs and improbable spoilers in the cinema industry, at least among pre-pubescent testosterone junkies. The sort that meet on a rainy Tuesday night in some godforsaken car park to talk about exhausts and low-slung trousers. See my newest post on business and read why I want to go into the military.
And so we arrive, twelve years later, for film six of a series that’s becoming increasingly larger in scale and has moved so far away from its wannabe Need for Speed routes that many fans of old are feeling alienated (rather like the game franchise I just mentioned, actually…). It’s not so much about the cars and the illegal street racing anymore; it’s all about globetrotting heists and crime syndicates.
Nevertheless, if you want to turn your brain off for a bit and stare at attractive women leaning over cars, the series has always been the go-to place for insanity and over-the-top action and Fast and Furious 6 (known from this point on as Fast 6) stands as the craziest of the bunch… in a good way.
The fifth film set the pace for this’un with its mysterious after-credits sequence; Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is alive after all (dafuq?! They buried her?!) and this is used as bait to lure Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his team into helping out Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). He’s on the hunt for a British (of course) villain who’s up to no good with his crazy-ass crimes, and he needs Dom’s mates to help kick ass with their cars. “Vehicular warfare” as one of them puts it, and that means action… lots of action.
And that’s basically all there is to it; just one ridiculous blockbuster sequence after another. If you thought a tank chase on a Spanish highway was too much, just wait till you see the climax involving an Antonov and the largest henchmen the world has ever seen. Watch out for that flying headbutt! It caused a lot of laughing at my screening. So fast.
Saying that does seem a little short-sighted though. The series has always been about family, togetherness and morals (sort of) and that shines through here with the gang doing everything in their power to preserve this family unit. You legitimately feel their pain when things go awry, especially if you’re a long-serving fan. It’s a masterstroke by director Justin Lin to let us into this communal feel regularly, with the adrenaline scenes punctuated by banterific moments in dingy garages. These parts remind greatly of sections in The Avengers when the characters are ripping into each other; it’s a great laugh with some well-crafted jokes and jibes, especially when Roman (Tyrese Gibson) is involved.
Seemingly accidental, though, is the constant anti-British sentiments and “America! F**k yeah!” mentality that lurks around every corner. Of course, the ribbing on the Brits is all in good taste (we have to laugh at ourselves sometimes) but the blatant patriotism from our neighbours across the pond curls the toes occasionally – the penultimate action scene even features a red, a white and (yeah, you guessed it) a blue car driven by the good guys. Nit-picking yes, but still… it got a bit comical, even if you aren’t supposed to take it seriously.
That aside, the tone of the movie is very much about the aforementioned family. “All roads lead to this” reads the movie’s tagline and in many ways the stories of these characters are wrapped up quite nicely, even though the seventh film is already is already in the works. Such a mood grounds the film and gives it a sense of purpose; there’s far from the most sophisticated plot bubbling away around you but the characters are perfectly believable and engaging – you do believe that they are the best of friends and will do anything for one another.
So, on the whole Fast 6 is a success. The ante has been upped and it easily tops its bombastic predecessor for sheer lunacy and blockbusting set pieces. It’s a crying shame that everything that happens action-wise has essentially been spoiled during the long advertising campaign, but this is yet another dim-witted movie that you can just sit and enjoy with no strings attached.
It’s just good, honest fun and moves the series up a gear (pun intended) even though the horrific clichés of old remain (how many times can you press the accelerator pedal to the floor?!).
The scene for the franchise’s future is set up nicely in a mid-credits sequence and it looks as though several new exciting avenues are there to be explored. Some may say that this series has run its course, but it is constantly evolving and still finding ways to amaze and humour us… “they got a tank!”