The reinvention of the “Fast & Furious” movie series continues with part six.
Where the first three movies cleaved to a fairly distinctive vision of tuner car street racing action and outlaw posturing, the fourth, fifth and sixth films have gradually shifted the focus from quarter-mile pink-slip challenges and drifting shenanigans to increasingly daft, ramped-up action sequences.
“Fast 6” has the gumption to nod to this, giving series mainstay Vin Diesel a moment of wry rumination with more recent addition to the ranks, Dwayne Johnson where they archly discuss Dominic Toretto’s graduation from half-inching DVD players in East L.A. to masterminding globe-trotting, vehicular-assisted heists.
At this point, the “Fast 6” movies have metamorphosed into a blue-collar hybrid of James Bond flick and street-level, bling-bling “Ocean’s Eleven”-esque caper. If you can process the notion that these films now bear the same relation to reality as does the glossy, rabidly capitalistic fantasia of a mid-90’s R&B video, then the escalating lunacy of the set-pieces in this film will hold no concern for you. It need hardly be said that if you require your evening’s filmic entertainment to possess some grounding in reality then this flick probably isn’t for you.
The film shifts the action from Rio in the last movie to Europe, with a rogue mercenary, Owen Shaw (played with eye-twinkling, goatee-stroking menace by Welsh actor Luke Evans) leading a mirror universe crew of badasses on a fuzzily drawn mission to steal a military McGuffin for sale to the highest bidder. And that’s mostly it – there’s quite a lot of guff about Dom’s crew being family, a bit of retconning to draw events from 3,4 & 5 together and some comedic diversions but the major business of the film is to stage ever bigger and more elaborate car stunts.
And on that level, “Fast 6” delivers value for money.
A chase through London uses the tight restrictions of London’s layout to great effect, which is then casually upstaged by a Dom/Letty chase which is edge-of-the-seat stuff that’s subsequently schooled by a much-ballyhooed Spanish highway destruction derby which has to be seen to be believed (not least for the amount of innocent bystanders who must have flattened or paralysed during its duration). And then there’s a bit with a plane.
The plot makes not a lick of sense, with Dwayne Johnson’s government agent character Luke Hobbs, as but one example, making decisions during the course of the tale which would have seen him fired, tried and jailed for 150 years if this were a film which took place in our universe.
As this sequel happens in the “Furious”-verse, Hobbs’ gun-t0-head, “Hulk Smash!” brand of catastrophic, city-trashing operational oversight merely keeps the story constantly redlining – he’s like an on-screen stand-in for director Justin Lin, supervising his morally murky, all-star crew of wrong-uns in the manner of a hyper-caffeinated fourteen year-old boy playing an open world Xbox game seeking the fastest way to cause abject chaos with the digital tools at his disposal.
After delivering a suitably cataclysmic ending – one which hasn’t quite been spoiled by its front and centre reveal in the movie’s trailers – departing director Lin offers a tantalising glimpse of next summer’s seventh (!) film with a post-credits teaser which offers closure for Sung Kang’s Han and a look at who will be foolishly pitting their wits against Dom, Brian and Co next time out.
It’s not Woody Allen. Just saying.
Is “Fast Six” nonsense? Absolutely. Is it entertaining? Completely.