Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fast & Furious 6 Review

Before I begin, I'd just like to point out that I'll be spoiling some events from the fourth film in this franchise, Fast & Furious, but nothing from Fast & Furious 6.

My history with The Fast and the Furious franchise is quite short; I saw the first film over a decade ago when it was first released and just two years ago saw and loved Fast Five; it was by far one of the best action films of that year and one of my favorites.  In preparation for Fast & Furious 6 (or just Furious 6 as the title sequence christens it) I sat down to check out Fast and Furious, considering its ties to this newest film, and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it as well.  Boy, am I glad I did that...the film's entire existence hinges on an event that happens in Fast and Furious...

...which is Letty's (Michelle Rodriguez) death.  Or now her supposed death.  Back in the fourth film, Letty was forced into an accident, then shot and burned to death.  But this is just what Dom (Vin Diesel) is told and thinks went down.  In actuality events occurred a tad differently from what everyone thought and Letty is alive and well and working for an ex-SAS-turned-criminal-badass, Shaw (Luke Evans).  He runs his own doppelganger heist crew that is bent on assembling a country-crippling piece of tech and selling it to the highest bidder.  Hobbs (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) uses Letty as leverage to get Dom to re-assemble (most) of his crew from Fast Five to help him stop Shaw and his crew.

I honestly had more fun with this movie that I have in a very long time in the theater; it's funny, shallow, deep, emotionless, emotion-filled, dumb, loud, and just plain entertaining.  Never before has a film required such a strong suspension of disbelief; things happen in this film that will either blow you away or make you laugh out of the absurdity of what's transpiring.  Luckily, I fall into the former camp and was thoroughly blown away by each well-staged and executed action set-piece.  Just as with the previous two films, I cannot fathom how director Justin Lin managed to capture the action on screen as he did; the choreography it must have taken to lock down some of these scenes and shots just boggles my mind.

I just briefly touched up on it, but the action in this film is turned up to eleven.  Every foot chase (of there are a few), car race (again, of which there are a few), and every fist fight is incredibly memorable and pulled off with an adeptness that is astounding; Justin Lin has incredible control over all the action - something that he's honed from directing four of these films.  But seriously, folks, this film has some of the best action set-pieces that I've ever seen.  There's a chase on a highway involving a tank that is mind-boggling to watch and the movie has one of the strongest third acts/finales that I've seen in any action film of recent memory.  Not to mention one of the best fist-fights I've ever seen.  Let's just say that Vin Diesel transforms into a Vinmissle.  It's insane.

But it can't be all Camaros and Superbirds, right?  I mean there has to be an Edsel here and there...and fortunately there really aren't many Edsels in Furious 6.  I mean, there are no literal Edsels but there are tiny missteps here and there.  The most obvious of which is Gina Carano's acting abilities...or lack thereof.  Her previous performance was in Haywire, a film I very much enjoyed, but with a performance that wasn't spectacular.  Somehow she's worse in this film; she has very little dialogue and rarely says more than a few words at a time, but just the way she acts feels wrong.  I just didn't buy her performance one bit.

Besides her lackluster performances I don't have much else to complain about.  If you don't wholly suspend your disbelief then this movie will be an awful experience for you.  So many things happen that probably aren't physically possible that it"s incredibly amusing - but incredibly badass at the same time.  There are really just little gripes here and there: Dom and Letty race in the latter part of the film but sans any form of GPS.  I mean, they're racing through the streets of London with seemingly no idea where they're going.  And seriously, there's no way in hell that Michelle Rodriguez could put up any amount of fight against Carano.  And she does twice.

For as big of a fan as Fast Five as I am, I can't quite decide whether or not Furious 6 takes the mantle as best of the franchise.  While it's bigger in scope in almost every way, I can't help but feel that this takes away from the tight cohesiveness that was the previous entry.  Five is such a great little package of a movie that the sprawling narrative of Furious 6 seems a bit unwieldy at times.  During several action sequences we're bouncing from up to three different happenings - the film's finale is a perfect example - and that leads to a bit of exhaustion by the end.  It all just seems like a a bit too much is going on at times.

Furious 6 really delivers on everything you could want out of a Furious movie and an action movie in general.  Honestly, its greatest strength isn't the mind-blowing action scenes or incredible chemistry between the cast, but is its overt self-awareness.  Writer Chris Morgan knows exactly what the movie should be and delivers in spades.  Hell, there's even a scene that approaches fourth-wall breakage with Tyrese's Roman that I won't spoil here because it's one of the best gags in the film.  When you see Dwayne Johnson jump twenty feet, in nearly-impossible-to-survive circumstances and doesn't get a scratch...well, you know you're watching a Furious movie.  And I'm okay with that.

By now (and even well beforehand) everyone should know what they're getting into with this movie; one of the best film-going experiences you'll ever have (as long as you don't have whiny kids beside you...), with insane action, incredibly humorous dialogue, great characters, some real emotion, and just a hint of self-awareness.  It's not perfect by any means...but what is?  I see movies to be entertained and Fast & Furious 6 delivers like no other.

Oh, and Vinmissle.  For reals.

Fast & Furious 6 up the ante from the incredible Fast Five - just don't expect Shakespeare, here.

The Bearded Bullet.

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