Directed by: Justin Lin
Written by: Chris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Luke Evans, Michelle Rodriguez, Gina Carano, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Jordana Brewster, Sung Kang
It’s hard to see how Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and their merry band of illegal street-racing, bank-robbing, best buds can keep on getting even fastererer and furiouserer but, in their sixth film in the hugely successful Fast and Furious franchise, they’ve made a damn fine attempt at it. The sixth film in a franchise built ostensibly on tough guys driving fast cars has no right to be this exhilarating. A winning combination of audacious set pieces, outrageous stunts, brawny banter and plot twists, Fast & Furious 6 unleashes more than just an incongruous ampersand, blowing its predecessors out of the water on every count.
“All roads lead to this.” That’s the tagline for Fast & Furious 6 and it’s appropriate on several different levels. The film is the final series entry from director Justin Lin, who picked up a fledgling franchise and carried it into the blockbuster realm. It also marks the culmination of a story that began at the end of Tokyo Drift, when a cameo from Vin Diesel signalled the shift from a set of loosely connected films to a tightly intertwined set of stories and characters.
Finally, Fast & Furious 6 marks the total obliteration of any semblance of reality or logic in the franchise.
Speeding through a city with a huge safe in tow seemed crazy in Fast Five. In Fast & Furious 6 Lin expands the action to absurd proportions, creating set pieces and action beats that defy physics and coherence. Yet it all works to purring perfection. After five movies, all roads indeed lead to this madness.
Picking up almost immediately where Fast Five left off, we’re once again with Brian (Paul Walker) and Dom (Vin Diesel), who are enjoying living life as retired multi-millionaires. Government agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) comes knocking in search of their unique skill set for high-stakes crime, as he needs help with the apprehension of international criminal Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). From there, the Fast Five team – including characters played by Ludacris, Tyrese, Sung Kang and Gal Gadot – is reassembled. This happens fairly quickly, allowing Lin to dive into first of many action set pieces, many of which are almost too unbelievable.
Lin has two really great things going on in Fast & Furious 6. Firstly, the story uses characters and situations from the previous films (there’s a surprisingly nostalgic recap of the previous five films over the opening credits) to drive the action forward, linking the movies together with very satisfying emotional bonds. This gives this film a deep grounding, and raises stakes that are totally new to the franchise.
Secondly, he’s paced the film at an almost frightening speed. The down times are short, creating an onslaught of relentless action. Most of the action scenes are longer and more intense than anything in the previous films, and conceived on grander scale. For example, the first major scene, involving a so-called flip car (which is like a combination street racer, skate ramp, and Batmobile), could have easily been the finale of any other film in the series. But here, there’s a tank sequence followed by a plane sequence (that just happens to conveniently take place on the world’s longest runway), followed by your jaw hitting the floor. The action never feels too repetitive because each set piece is broken up by another that’s different from the ones surrounding it.
By escalating the action to such an degree, all logic goes out the window. In the first Fast & Furious films, the characters were human, and driving cars was their main skill. Now, not only has their driving prowess expanded tremendously, they’re incredibly accurate with massive guns, can fly through the air, and exhibit super-human strength. The action is totally ridiculous and sure to induce many eye-rolls and laughs from the audience. But isn’t that exactly what the franchise has always aimed to do?
With decent direction from departing helmer Justin Lin, Fast & Furious 6 is exactly what the fans have been waiting for. Lin, as well as achieving a balancing act between the humour and action involved, has established a connection between each of the films in the series itself and, more importantly, a connection between the characters and fans. Regular viewers of the series will now have a sense of an overall arc and even nostalgia at times, something that’s rare for a big-budget action franchise.
With Fast & Furious 6, Justin Lin has created the Fast & Furious movie fans never imagined was possible. It’s bigger and more exciting than Fast Five, but dumber than all the previous films combined. It is insane, huge, ridiculous fun. Its not-so-tragic flaw, as expressed in the overboard action and frequent references to the previous five films, is assuming everyone in the audience is a fan of the franchise. At this point, sitting down to watch the sixth film, you’re either with it or you’re not. I’m totally with it.