Well, it was inevitable. There is no way that a Fast & Furious movie debuts and a member of our staff is not there to see it. This weekend, it was yours truly who had to endure the combination of cheesy dialogue and excellent automobiles. You know what you are getting with an F&F movie, and Fast & Furious 6, for all the right and wrong reasons, was no different.
Since the tag line of this movie is “All Roads Lead To This,” let us examine the path that led us here. The original Fast and Furious was both the culmination of the import tuner genre at the time, but also a catalyst for the growth of interest in that performance compact culture. For a while, it was all downhill form there.
2Fast 2Furious brought us a film that was devoid of, well, everyone but Paul Walker, as well as the introduction of Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris into the franchise. That flick was so bad that producers basically needed to do a reboot. You know it as “Tokyo Drift,” and the only connection to the original franchise was a Vin Diesel cameo. No Paul Walker, but the two are reunited in Fast Furious, the fourth film, which was basically a cinematic version of one of the Need For Speed games, just with less of a plot.
The crew finally came together, and they finally hired some screenwriters with Fast Five, which brought in Han, thus tying in the near-standalone “Tokyo Drift.” Ever since the smoldering crater that is the second film, I have left viewings of subsequent sequels saying to myself “well, its not the first one, but it’s the best one since the first one.” Fast Five was the first of the series to capture the energy and cohesive plot of the first Fast and Furious. Oh yeah, and The Rock can fix any film franchise.
Thus, for Fast 6, went to the same formula; employing JUST the right mix of cars to interest automotive enthusiasts from all genres, plenty of Rock-Dom bro-mance, and some interesting developments with ramifications on past and future films…spoilers ahead (that’s a car pun!)
So we leave off with the end of Fast Five, Dom and Brian and their ladies are all living the good life, fresh off that epic heist. Luke Hobbs (aka the Rock, aka Dwayne Johnson, aka the Brahma Bull, aka the People’s Champ) isn’t living so hot. He’s chasing down a new world-class criminal, and guess who are the only people who can help him? Dom’s team, obviously!
Rock has a new sidekick, UFC fem and “Haywire” star, Gina Carano. She provides great fight scenes, but is utterly under utilized, only receiving about four lines of dialogue the entire film. One of those lines is an epic (for this franchise) plot twist. Meanwhile The Rock is given more than a few unnecessary exclamation points to dialogue. (Hint: want to learn how to talk like The Rock? Say “Son of a bitch,” but as “sum-bitch,” and try and say it as one word.
If there is one thing that this film gets right, is it the chase scenes. They are creative, exciting, and elicit a few “OH SH*T!!!” moments. Granted, the final chase is physically impossible, but it has all the elements that would make any action movie great. It was like a grandiose version of the chase/shootout involving the semi truck and the Honda Civics from the first film. There were a lot of plot callbacks and simple plotlines tied up with a single line of dialogue.
Michelle Rodriguez returns as Letty, with, well, a pretty weak plot line as having amnesia, and has no idea about her past, but still somehow knows how to drive like a champ and put back together a Jensen Interceptor. It’s sitcom-level weak.
If I had to give one overriding critique, it would be the choice of vehicles and how they are showcased in various scenes. What made the first film great was the presence of the RX-7 and Eclipse as set pieces; they were in the background and grew (via tuning) with the characters. Ever since then, the cars were meant to reflect the automotive fads of the time. Sure, Dom always reverts back to his charger and Brian his Skyline, when possible, but the cars used in the “tank chase” were a little Ludacris (more puns!).
Well, we know there will be more Fast and Furious films. The seventh and eighth installments are already in the works, and it seems like since Fast Five, and this film, they have finally found their stride. Too bad there were three mediocre films in the interim. One of which, Tokyo Drift, we get a look into in a post credit scene, and who makes an appearance is both incredible but makes total sense when you think about it.
You know what you’re getting with the Fast and the Furious. At least now, it seems like there is a focus on making genuinely good movies, and not just advertising showcases for JC Whitney and Veilside. They are fun movies about cars, and the passion for cars. In the end, it was one hell of a ride.
Image Credits: Universal Pictures