Saturday, May 25, 2013

Fast and Furious 6 Review

Fast and Furious 6 Review

If you asked me ten years ago what films would have evolved into giant franchises by my twenties I would have laughed. Ten years ago I had not invested much into the "Fast & Furious" franchise. The first film was good, but it was a typical summer blockbuster. The second film was a complete waste of time. The third and fourth films were both fun films, but hardly great and very mediocre. With the fifth installment in the franchise everything changed. It seemed like Universal finally got to where they were headed since 2001, and the result was wonderful. 

The "Fast & Furious" franchise has become one of the biggest Hail Mary's come true in film history. It is a series of films that has gone from the darkness to the light. It is also one of the craziest, silliest, completely batshit crazy franchises in film history. What started as a series of crime capers with cars, has suddenly moved to full-blown, non-stop action films with cars. I don't want that last sentence to come off negative, I love the direction this series is headed. I only hope the series keeps firing off on the same cylinders that it is riding on now.

"Fast and Furious 6" is a lot of fun. If you liked "Fast Five" get ready to have another wild ride. If you are new to the series, its a great jumping point. The film may reference incidents from the past, here and there. But make no mistake, you can pick up with this sixth film and have a pretty good idea of what is going on. This sixth installment is my personal favorite so far.

I like this entry the best because the stakes for these characters have never been this high before. As the film begins, we follow Dom Toretto. Toretto has been portrayed by Vin Diesel from the beginning and Diesel has really brought the character into his own. The depth Diesel brings to the Toretto character this time out is inspired, precise and even transcendent. This is the best Diesel's been the whole series and he deserves mad props. In this sixth film, Diesel is motivated by the discovery of Letty. Letty (played by Michelle Rodriguez) is the former girlfriend of Dom who we all believed died in Fast and Furious 4. She is indeed alive and suffering from amnesia. This is the most proactive we have ever seen Dom before in the series and it is gripping and awe-inspiring.

The stakes are high for Brian (Paul Walker) too. Brian has had a serious relationship with Dom's sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) the whole series. As the sixth film begins, Dom and Brian are seemingly racing down a winding road. Turns out they were going to the hospital, Mia has just given birth to her and Brian's first child. Brian has a family to protect now, but he still feels with all his heart to back Dom in his crusade. Both Walker and Diesel make us care about Brian and Dom, and the audience is prepared to follow them into anything.

The film isn't about getting to Letty. Dom and his team are recruited by Hobbs, the international lawman played by The Rock in "Fast Five." Seems Hobbs is after Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), an international criminal who has a scheme that could result in the deaths of millions of lives. If Dom and his team can deliver Shaw to Hobbs, not only will Dom get Letty back, but the whole team gets amnesty. 

Luke Evans has a really juicy bad guy to play. Easily the best and most iconic villain in the series so far. He's ruthless but he has a code of honor that he finds unbreakable. He feels like a villain that doesn't belong in a summer blockbuster like this and I give credit to Evans for bringing him to life. Its splendid work by Evans and I definitely look forward to seeing him in both "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" and "The Crow" remake. I am happy that Michelle Rodriguez is back. She returns to Letty with just as much attitude and precision as before. The Rock gives Hobbs badass charm, a truly wonderful character brought to life by a great actor. Gosh, I am so happy The Rock is back in action films.

The rest of the cast features Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Sung Kang, and Gal Gadot playing the rest of Dom's team. We've seen these actors grow with their characters over the entire series and each actor delivers great work. The chemistry between Gibson and Bridges in particular is awesome. Gina Carano appears as a member of Hobbs team who isn't at all who she seems. I wasn't impressed with her film "Haywire," which was released last year. But she does well with what she has in this film.

The film really shines with its action, the coolest action beats of the entire series. We are not just witnessing crazy car stunts. We are getting full blown action shootouts, ripe with big explosions. The craziest stunt involving a tank is featured in this film and it was just plain glorious to look at. In fact the entire stretch of film on the highway involving the tank will be talked about a lot over this summer movie season. I know it is May and the summer is still young. Trust me, it is that awesome. Another scene I loved is a fight scene in a plane hanger. The scene had Diesel and The Rock fighting side-by-side against a host of bad guys. It felt so surreal yet beautiful at the same time that I wanted to get up and cheer. This film is still plays in the spirit of summer blockbuster but it cranks up the volume and relishes in its silliness. 

At the end of the day, this film works because the actors, the writers and director Justin Lin told a story which makes the audience care about the characters. In the summer movie season, that is a very hard thing to pull off. These characters and this series overall has come a very long way and I give Lin all the credit in the world for believing in this franchise. The end of "Fast and Furious 6" features a post-credit scene which teases that even bigger stakes are on the horizon. I only hope that the actors and Universal can keep the depth and the characterization pumping in the next film. I couldn't believe how incredibly emotional "Fast and Furious 6" was, and I pray I say the same thing about the 7th film. For right now, I am pleased to say that "Fast and Furious 6" is summer bliss. I can't wait to watch it again and come Christmas time, I plan to have a Fast and Furious marathon!


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