Well, here we are again for the sixth extremely fast and excessively furious time. I’m not sure how many people were actually clamoring for another installment in the Fast and Furious franchise, but we’ve nevertheless been saddled with this monstrosity, so we’d better make nice with it. The real question will be whether or not Fast and Furious 6 has the chops to justify its own existence.
Justin Lin reprises his directorial role from the previous Fast and Furious films, proving that he’ll be damned if he lets his beloved cash-cow franchise finally rest in peace. Direction is serviceable but ultimately uninspired, as Lin’s only real proficiency seems to be choreographing car chase and race scenes. You might say to yourself “Well, this being a Fast and Furious film, aren’t cars and the racing thereof supposed to be an integral part of the action, and therefore provide an ample opportunity for Lin to showcase his skill?” The answer, I submit, is that while there are quite a few of those fast-paced action sequences, they counterintuitively make it more difficult for any singular chase to stand out. What I mean to say is that they all kind of blend together into a kind of generic, indistinguishable haze full of roaring motors and crunching metal. While I really want to like some individual pieces of the film, unfortunately the experience as a whole seemed to be the definition of generic.
The F&F crew returns to their well-worn roles, including Vin Diesel playing what I can only assume to be himself, and Paul Walker as the most bland human being on the face of creation. To borrow a phrase from Andrew, almost all of the characters could use a dimension or two. It seems absurd to me that the two main characters are so ineffectual and bland in such a high-octane roller coaster of a film. It seemed as though most of the characters, save the few token ethnic characters whose banter was generally pretty funny, seemed completely disengaged from the actions happening on-screen and made the whole affair feel like a cash-in on old characters and gimmicks. The spectacular Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson returns as well, and presumably he’s achieved his life long goal by finally managing to swell his biceps to a size larger than that of his own head.
While the film certainly can’t be criticized for being slow, things kick of at such a breakneck pace that I’d barely had time to turn off my cell phone before two car chases and a shootout had already occurred. It’s people like Chris Morgan, writer of Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five, and Fast and Furious 6, who give me hope that so long as my brain doesn’t undergo any massive brain hemorrhages in the foreseeable future, I too might one day see my own screenplay green-lit. Plotting and story are all over the place, culminating in ambiguous motivations all around, a bland and uninspired villain, and dialogue that makes me want to stick scissors in my ears.
Through it all though, I find myself liking Fast and Furious 6 more than I should. About 5 minutes into the film, The Rock is tasked with interrogating a thug to ascertain the location of the big baddie’s hideout. The thug, a brute of a man in his own right and weighing easily 300 pounds, seems to present more than a challenge. Undeterred, The Scorpion King proceeds to clean and jerk the thug above his head and throw him against a nearby wall with a trajectory and velocity that would make Isaac Newton roll over in his grave. This sequence accomplishes two things: first, it establishes that the most basic laws of physics don’t apply to main characters, and second, it marks the kind of tone that’s being established- that is, sheer unmitigated silliness. Time after time, the protagonists and villains alike cheat death and laugh in the face of reality, but it’s all done in a kind of endearing, tongue-in-cheek way. If the Fast and Furious franchise ever had any semblance of realism, is has most decidedly flown the coop with nary a farewell glance.
Ultimately, Fast and Furious 6 is a writing catastrophe balanced out by some impressive action sequences and a good natured reliance on the suspension of disbelief. Inevitably, Fast and Furious 7 will try to outdo its predecessor, thanks in part to the addition of Jason Statham, whose appearance sets the series up beautifully for a Fast and Furious/Expendables/Transporter crossover. The series thus far has made it abundantly clear that it has no intention of remaining even remotely grounded in reality- which is the only way that such a nonsensical and bland movie gets a pass- but from here on out, even Chris Morgan will be hard pressed to raise that stakes and make us continue to care about an outdated property.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5