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Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

Diesel Fool

In preparation for writing about Fast & Furious 6, I re-read my review of Fast Five. Turns out this will be a much shorter critique because everything is exactly the same. Only the cars and locations have changed, presumably to protect a team of creatively bankrupt screenwriters.

The only interesting thing about this movie is that it cements the Fast franchise's parallel trajectory to the Friday the 13th films of the 1980s. Bear with me:

Following the surprising world-wide success of 2001's The Fast and the Furious, two sequels of diminishing quality and box office hit theatres with relative thuds. 2 Fast 2 Furious proved that Paul Walker couldn't carry a film to save his life, and Tokyo Drift proved that fans of the series don't give a shit about Tokyo or drift racing.

It was only Vin Diesel's surprise appearance at the end of the third movie--and the studio's suggestion that the fourth outing would, indeed, be "The Final Chapter"--that interest sparked again. 2006's Fast & Furious proved to be such a juggernaut that executives immediately and deliberately misread the tea leaves: audiences weren't showing up for the fond farewell, they thought; they actually wanted to see more cars, criminals, and casualties.

Sadly, they didn't misread anything. Fast Five was the most successful one yet. And now it looks like we're stuck with Diesel and his underworld A-Team forever.

The last film's most entertaining moment came during an end-credits stinger, and saw Dwayne Johnson's federal agent Hobbs discover that the murdered love interest of car-thief exraordinaire Dominic Toretto (Diesel) was still alive. Foolishly, I hoped the franchise would introduce ghost drivers, but no. It turns out Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) was only presumed dead, and awoke in a hospital with amnesia. She was taken in by global terrorist/automotive-acrobatics enthusiast Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), and recruited to help him steal weaponry all around the world.

Shaw's next target is a device that can black out all military communications for twenty-four hours, and Hobbs seeks Toretto's help in catching this band of evil drivers. He agrees, but only on the condition that Toretto's crew be given amnesty for their crimes. From here, Fast & Furious 6 's ingredients make the movie literally interchangeable with episodes four and five:

Hot women, macho guys, millions of dollars in collateral damage and lost lives,* and an ending that sees Toretto and his gang "retiring" with even larger misbegotten fortunes--which they'll inevitably walk away from at the start of the next movie, in favor of some newer, bigger, dumber adventure. It's appropriate that this film opens with a "Previously on..." montage of parts one through six: the series has become a big-screen version of syndicated, off-brand action TV.

And, yes, I realize director Justin Lin and screenwriter Chris Morgan are aiming to please the kind of audience who would gladly pay eleven dollars to see cars chase one another and anthropomorphic stereotype Tyrese Gibson demean an entire race of people at every turn--but do they have to care this little? It's bad enough that Gina Carano stinks up the joint, giving the same stiff, happy-to-be-on-a-big-time-movie-set performance that all athletes-turned-actors do, but we must also endure the bullshit dramatic tension of another character "dying"?

I won't spoil who that character is, but he or she certainly appears to be out of the picture (and future pictures, as well--but who knows?). My question is, how did this person die? Not literally how; I mean, I watched the scene and understood what I was looking at--but I don't get why falling backwards out of the back of a plane that's barely twenty feet off a runway would kill someone in the Fast universe.

Lin and company spent the better part of two hours (on top of the series' previous ten) showing me that all of these characters are supermen--crashing into buildings, grappling in mid-air before flying into cars, etc.--so I fully expected this person to come limping up to the gathering of anti-heroes at the end and cheerfully proclaim, "I'm okay!"

Weirdly, randomly, Toretto's team is one person short now.

I liked two things about Fast & Furious 6: Thure Lindhardt, star of Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal popped up for about five minutes and reminded me of a much better film. Also, I nodded off exactly six times during this movie; not only did I appreciate the rest, I was miraculously able to follow everything that happened after regaining consciousness.**

Why do I keep giving these boring monuments to popcorn my money and time? That's an easy one: the stingers! Like Fast Five, which just about put me off the franchise for good, Fast & Furious 6 contains an Easter Egg scene hidden in the credits that sets up the next movie. These things are so good that I almost don't feel ashamed for falling into the filmmakers' trap.


As with the character death, I won't ruin the ending. Suffice it to say Fast 7: Bermuda Bounce looks to be one hell of a game-changing, high-octane thrill ride. Which means I'd better sneak some Red Bull into the theatre.

*Strangely enough, when a tank rolls through several civilian cars during the climax, there's not a drop of blood to be found on the smashed driver's-side interiors.

**For perspective, I saw Fast & Furious 6 at a noon screening, and still couldn't stay alert for the life of me.

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