Movie Review: Fast and Furious 6

May 31, 2013

You would think any movie franchise with the number 6 after its title would have ended up on my screening list along the way. Not so with Fast & Furious 6. I have never seen entries one through five. So at least I can report from a reasonably fresh perspective, instead of just more of the same.

Director Justin Lin knows how to push the right buttons on a high-octane action film. Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are back as the nominal stars of the piece… well, after all the cars… along with semi-regulars Michele Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, and Dwayne Johnson. And from what I’ve read after seeing the film, Number 6 has a new twist instead of the “same-old” to offer. Fast and Furious 1 through 4 were about car racing and chases. Number 5 added a heist a la Oceans Eleven to the proceedings to freshen it up a bit.  And now Number 6 goes one step further with even more plot.

According to the cliff notes, as paraphrased from Universal Pictures, “our heroes have scattered across the globe, unable to return home. Living on the lam has left their lives incomplete. Meanwhile, the Dwayne Johnson character has been tracking an organization of lethally skilled mercenary drivers across twelve countries. The only way to stop this criminal outfit is to outmatch them at street level, so the elite team assembles once again in London. Payment? Full pardons for all of them so they can return to home and family.”

And, as one would expect from a film of this genre, hijinks, and plenty of chases, crashes, and careening vehicles ensue. So, yes, Fast and Furious 6 is a big, loud, dumb, breathtaking speed epic. You won’t raise your I.Q. any by seeing it. You won’t come away humming any of the songs. But for what Fast and Furious 6 is extremely well done and downright entertaining.

Diesel, Walker, and Johnson all seem comfortable in their ongoing roles, and yes, they will all be back next July in Fast and Furious 7, with the addition of Jason Statham. Lim handles the jaw-dropping action scenes just fine, despite ignoring the law of gravity, or the combining of automotive and aeronautical concepts. To paraphrase the ad line from the first Christopher Reeve Superman film, “You’ll believe a car can fly.” Almost.

But as easy as it is to put down these formula genre series films, it’s just as easy to relax and enjoy the spectacle. And that is what a lot of moviegoers did over the Memorial Day weekend, as Fast and Furious 6 sold about $100 million dollars worth of tickets in the US alone. So whatever the filmmakers wanted to do, they succeeded with a vengeance.

Due to time constraints, I wasn’t able to do the one thing I really wanted to do, which was to sFast and Furious 6 at a drive-in theatre. I remember what a kick it was to go to the drive-in for such octane opuses as Thunder Road with Robert Mitchum, or Howard Hawks’s Red Line 7000. But you should consider that as an option for your outing. Just as long as you remember that, as Click and Clack would say on Car Talk, “Don’t drive like these guys!”

The PG-13 rated Fast and Furious 6 is now showing virtually everywhere, including the two area drive-ins.