Ludacris sums up Fast & Furious 6 rather perfectly when his character says, “we’re talking vehicular warfare.” Expecting anything less (or more) from a fifth sequel in an action franchise would be knuckle-headed. At this point, the Fast & Furious franchise has all but given up on the sense of wonder and emotional release the first movie captured so well in its focus on muscle cars and street racing. Carried on the muscular shoulders of Vin Diesel (now age 46, seriously!) and Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock, and to a much lesser extent Paul Walker, and guided by the action-trained eye of director Justin Lin, the sixth installment is a top notch action thrill ride but lacks heart. Of course, ‘heart’ isn’t even close to what the filmmakers set out to capture. Ready and rearing to continue making bank, Fast & Furious 6 puts the pedal to the metal and delivers a high-octane cinematic escape that is as entertaining as it is absolutely crazy! (see above image)
Fast Five introduced Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to the series, who was hunting Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and the latter’s team, including cop-turned-criminal Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker), as they successfully pulled of a major heist in Rio de Janiero. In the new film, Hobbs enlists the “retired” Toretto and his gang to help catch an ex-Special Ops soldier, Owen Shaw, who is attempting to gather the resources needed to create a very powerful weapon. The plot of Fast Five was fitting in that it helped breath new life into the franchise. The plot in Fast & Furious 6 is much more piecemeal but it serves its purpose in reuniting the crew for an exciting conclusion to this section of the (supposed) larger story. Vin Diesel has already publicly stated that Fast & Furious 7, 8, and 9 (if greenlit), will form their own stand alone trilogy to complete the story. It’s not a stretch to imagine three more films being made since it’s the charismatic actors combined with impressively choreographed stunts that easily draw in the crowds, and neither are tapping on the breaks.
Justin Lin (who also directed the previous three) and writer Chris Morgan hike up the level of action from Fast Five’s ridiculousness to this one’s absurdity. And, boy is it absurd. You get the loud racing, fist fights, explosions, shiny cars, bulging muscles, visible cleavage and ass close-ups you’ve come to expect from these films…but all injected with steroids, or more appropriately, nitrous oxide. Morgan even throws in a few plot twists to ensure that some brain activity is occurring while viewing. Oh, the nerve! Intermittent moments of sappiness and throw-away dialogue give the film its needed feature-length running time, but it never hinders the overall pleasure-fest being offered. In fact, a sense of self-awareness pervades throughout the film and allows the audience to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride rather than cringe as if the over-the-top stunts weren’t eliciting the reactions they intended. On a few occasions, the audience burst into laughter — either because it was actually funny or because the stunt was so out of this world that it felt only right to release the excitement by laughing.
The film is best when cars are tumbling left and right and Vin Diesel is punching someone. At age 46 (again, seriously?), he still effectively flaunts the muscle, thuggish charm, and cavernous man-voice that you’d readily choose to voice an animated cinder block. His action man status is only eclipsed by the behemoth that stands next to him. The Rock is so much fun to watch and, as always, provides some good-natured humor to supplement his usual ass-kicking mantra. Seeing the two men team up is a treat in and of itself. It’s the brotherhood of Paul Walker and Vin Diesel that drives home the themes of family and loyalty in the film, but it’s the action sequences involving the former two that prove to be the most captivating (and marketable) moments. I can guarantee you that every man who walked out of the theater considered signing up for a gym membership if he hadn’t already.
Fast & Furious 6 opens in Bay Area theaters today.