Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

Directed by Justin Lin
Written by Chris Morgan

It’s hard to imagine following up the greatness of Fast Five, but the show must go on, and there is plenty of more cars and explosions to explore. And plus, we still have to figure out how/when/if Han finally makes it to Tokyo! But one begs the question, where do we go from here after the crew pulled off the heist and should be living large, free from the pressure to survive on the run without money? Well, leave it to the filmmakers to make up another way to pull everybody back in for yet another “one more ride”, and this time the twist of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) coming back from the dead checks a could of the boxes: unbelievable development and reason to get the crew back together for another job.

Dom (Vin Diesel) is living the good life with Elena (Elsa Pataky), but when one day Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) shows up on his remote island paradise with recent pictures of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), presumed dead in Fast & Furious, Dom calls on Brian (Paul Walker) and the rest (Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Gal Gadot, Sung Kang) to help Hobbs bring down a notorious criminal named Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) and his gang, while having the opportunity to not only reconnect with Letty, but buy their pardon and freedom back from the US Government.

For whatever reason, this just isn’t as good as Fast Five. I could explore numerous things to help explain this, comparing film to film, but ultimately Fast & Furious 6 is still a really fun, entertaining action film that fits perfectly into what the franchise has been doing since 4. The action set pieces are big, loud, and explody. The characters have great chemistry, there is occasional comic-relief. Formulaically, and even narratively, the film just works. I think it lacks the same wow factor of Five, lacking the pizzaz and awe, which is saying something given the two biggest action scenes in the film feature a car chase with a tank and a car chase with a plane.

And those two scenes are truly breathtaking, even if they are a little bigger and little less probable than anything we’ve seen in the series before. We also, perhaps, get our first true villain in the film series, apart from fairly generic drug lord types. Owen Shaw is positioned as a true match for the Furious crew, someone capable of eluding them and doing real damage to the world at large, and I think that largely saves this film from being just another entry in the big, loud, explody movie series. And while Shaw is positioned as such a formidable foe, and Luke Evans is menacing in the role, I do still struggle to exactly recall what the treat was, other than him being a “bad guy” stealing an important thing and trying to sell to the highest bidder. Not the most creative opposition, and solely designed as a MacGuffin to give the crew something to do to regain their freedom in America, which is of course central to the continuing of the franchise.

In the end, this just largely feels like a transitional episode, one which is good and fine, but forgettable when compared to the other installments, even the ones I didn’t like. There is just so little to set it apart. While I’ve heard some mention the muddling of the series, unable to remember which thing happens in which movie, I think each installment has been fairly distinctive and done a great job of distinguishing itself from the rest. Until really this one. Perhaps the most generic entry into the franchise to date, even if it does finally give us the resolution to the Han to Tokyo saga (which I guess means that 3 takes place shortly after 6 from the timeline), Fast & Furious 6 uses the same successful formula of the “new” Fast & Furious films, which delivers an entertaining ride, regardless of how it sizes up to the rest.

★★★☆☆ – LIKED IT

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