Stars: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Ludacris, Luke Evans, Gina Carano | Written by Chris Morgan | Directed by Justin Lin
Fast & Furious 6, the latest installment of the decades spanning Fast Cars & Family saga sees director Justin Lin bow out from the franchise in spectacular style with the biggest scale, most spectacular and almost certainly dumbest installment yet.
With the insane popularity of the previous film, which grossed $500 million worldwide and garnered the most positive critical reception since the first film back in 2001, Lin has been given the keys to even bigger playground here with palpable increasing production value and a directorial vision which with every installment sense his first effort, 2006’s Tokyo Drift, has gotten more coherent and pleasingly more confident in using crunchy practical stunt work throwing away the CG riddled horror at the climax of Fast & Furious (the 4th adventure) and instead developing action sequences with multiple points of focus which never jar and never disorient, which is something of a miracle given the vast, overblown and at times stretching to a strange sort of self – reflexive parody which becomes quite sublime. These action sequences are also varied, with car chases, girl-on-girl fistfights (Haywire’s Gina Carrano bringing some A-grade badass throughout) and flying headbutts all featuring in a film which does feel too long at well over 2 hours but is able to stick the landing due to such fun carnage.
Where the film does sputter a little is whenever it has to slow down and actually tell a story. Vin Diesel’s Dominic rumbles on about family in the same way he always has, the film continuing this franchise’s vain attempts trying to make these larger-than-life characters human for no real reason and Paul Walker’s Brian contributes the same level of nothing he always has. The supporting characters conform to type well enough also but the melodrama surrounding Michelle Rodriguez ‘s Lettie is played far too seriously for what it is and slows things down when you just will the film to keep up the pace. The film also hobbles Hobbs, the man-mountain, take no prisoners character Dwayne Johnson brought with spectacular style last time round, as he becomes a sentimental idiot which completely destroys the strong sense of credibility built earlier in both the last instalment and this film, something necessitated by the plot which frankly, is as stupid as they come.
As dumb as the plotting is, the film does relishing wallowing in it through and through and it is somewhat hard to criticise the strange sense of honesty. Ludicris and Tyrese Gibson comment on the craziness of things happening around them fairly often and a touch of the rampant self-seriousness which the earlier films took themselves has been wiped away as a result. The tease of next year’s installment looks like things will change again but for this story, it is clearly fitting.
Fast & Furious 6 is a bit of joy bringing propulsive action with less filler than previously seen. The best film in the franchise yet with a tease for a seventh which could well top it. My personal surprise of the year so far, and fair play to all involved.