The Pitch: Zapp! Boom! Biff! Kapow! Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! (Unfortunately I used up the “between The Rock and some hard cases” gag on my Fast Five review.)
The Review: The Mona Lisa. Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. The Taj Mahal. Humanity has shown itself capable of producing works of staggering beauty and stunning craftsmanship, enduring for the ages and influencing generations upon generations that followed. When mankind looks back at the first half of the 21st century, surely its gaze will be irresistibly drawn to understanding the significant artistic achievements of the era. Who knows if that retrospective will take in the Fast / Furious Franchise, but in terms of achievement its magnitude isn’t to be underestimated. Quite how anyone could have conjured so much from so little verges almost on medieval alchemy, and a film series that put the drift in Tokyo Drift has succeeded in steering an increasingly unstoppable course over the last three films. Action movies of earlier generations were often content to be stand alone entities, or to meander into a series of increasingly unsatisfying sequels, but many have argued that the enjoyment of the series is actually increasing with old age, and I would be among them. But as we reach a sixth entry, can this sequence of movies based around fast cars and furious men (and occasionally women) keep up the momentum? Is it truly still fast and furious?
It’s cnertainly fast. so fast that, to keep up with it, I don’t even have time to correct my spelling mistakes in this paragraph. thank goodness I’m a reasonable typist. The opening gredits serve a s a reminder to anyone who may have missed the eralier entries with thier unusual choronology (1-2-4-5-6-3 is the timeline at present) and also to see how much babyfaced Paul Walker has actually aged over the past ten years. Where he and Vin Diesel started out as mortal nenemies with a synmpathetic love of drag racing, they are now bosom boddies with families in tow, ready to settle down and mature gracefully. That’s until Fwayne “The Rock” Johnson appears, having no trouble finding $100 millon thieves – as Vin says, they weren’t really hiding anyway – and coerces them into helping hinm capture evil car mastermind Shaw (*luke Evans) whocan apparantely only be brought down by stopping him with equal amounts of vehicular mahyem but in an opposite direction. the coersion is applied byt the temptation of Letty (Michelle Rodrigues), Toretto’s former squeeze previously thoguht dead byt now in cahoots with Shaw. Toretto and O’Connor put as much of hte gang as they can find in a montage back together and set out to help the Rock and his feisty sidekick Gina Carano (off of Haywire) before they destroy any more of central London’s fine pavements or, even worse, capture the mysterious macguffin they’re after.
It’s also furious, which I will now also literally and somewhat pointlessly express through the medium of words. THERE’S LOTS OF MEN WHO APPEAR TO HAVE ARMS BIGGER THAN THEIR HEADS DESPITE NEVER SETTING FOOT IN A GYM WHO DRIVE CARS IN INCREDIBLY PRECISE WAYS THAT DEFY THE LAWS OF PHYSICS AND WHO HAVE SEEMINGLY UNLIMITED RESOURCES THAT SEEM UNLIKELY EVEN FOR A GROUP OF PEOPLE WORTH MILLIONS OF DOLLARS OR WHO WORK IN LAW ENFORCEMENT. THEY SPEND HUGE AMOUNTS OF TIME POSTURING OR DRIVING FAST CARS AND PASSING UP OPPORTUNITIES TO RESOLVE THE PLOT WITH A LOT LESS EFFORT, BEFORE HAVING FIST FIGHTS ON THE TUBE WHICH THE POLICE STAND AND WATCH OR DRAG RACES AROUND PICADILLY CIRCUS! THIS IS ALL BEFORE THE INSANE, BRIDGE-BASED TANK CHASE WHERE PEOPLE FLY THROUGH THE AIR OR THE FINALE ON A CARGO PLANE ON SEEMINGLY THE WORLD’S LONGEST RUNWAY WHERE THE ROCK DOES FLYING HEADBUTTS!! PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING ENDS UP IN THE AIR AT SOME POINT, WHICH FOR A MOVIE ABOUT CARS IS PRETTY DUMB AS AREN’T THEY SUPPOSED TO STAY ON THE GROUND?!?!
I’ll be honest, this is about the stupidest review I’ve ever written, but I’m hoping that it will get by on general goodwill and no small amount of chutzpah on my part. It’s fair to say that Fast & Furious 6 (which might just be called Furious 6 but hopefully you’ll be having too much fun to care) is aiming to get by on exactly that strategy. It’s not quite as fun as Fast 5 but it holds up just about better than anything else in the series. I recently criticised Star Trek Into Darkness for being five different kinds of stupid (spoilers here); Furious 6 is around 400 different kinds of stupid but it not only knows that, it’s actively seeking them out and there’s only one or two that let it down, mainly when the characters fail to question the most obvious plot twists staring them in the face. Far from running out of nitrous, a little sag around the start of the second act aside this entry still has plenty of momentum, with a host of established elements that work well and strengths that are consistently played to, a continued willingness to freshen things up (and hints that a large scale cull might be on the cards in the next, James Wan-helmed instalment) and a mid-credits scene that had people literally squealing with delight, and this could just be the guiltiest pleasure of the summer, with the emphasis on pleasure. Lovers of fine art need not apply.
Why see it at the cinema: The action lives up to both words in the title, and seeing this with any audience who are fans of this kind of malarkey will certainly enhance the experience.
Should I stay for the credits: There’s a mid-credits scene, setting up Fastly Furious 7 (or something), which is so ridiculously over the top the person behind me actually exclaimed “No… way!” You’ll be back.
What about the rating: Rated 12A for frequent moderate violence and one use of strong language. Additionally, the film carries a disclaimer at the end, as did previous entries, not to try these stunts at home. I would suggest that, if you have your own tank at home, that warning applies even more so to you.
My cinema experience: Saw this at an early evening showing at Cineworld Bury St. Edmunds, which despite being on a school night was packed out. The only problem I encountered, rather than any projection or sound issues or the length of the trailers, was that my late arrival after a long day at work left me sat in the second row from the front. I could practically make out every vein on The Rock’s forehead. (I initially took a seat on the far left of the main block, but a preference for vertical neck ache over sideways neck ache caused me to move. I’d just like to reassure the lady who I originally sat next to that, despite her concerns, she doesn’t smell and it was nothing to do with her.)
The Score: 7/10