Fast and The Furious 6 Review By Adam
Question: When is Vin Diesel better than Leonardo DiCaprio? The real answer is never, but if you were to compare their current releases at the cinema, ol’ crome dome has the three time Oscar nominee beat, and I’m not just talking about the financials. I know, how the fuck can a sixth film in a brain dead franchise (Fast & Furious 6) possess a higher rating on rotten tomatoes than an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby ? The answer: genre expectations. I’m on the record as saying that that every film needs to be judged according to the genre it inhabits. Sure, I have preferred genres, but I don’t carry a bias; a five star horror film (The Descent) may have a lower over-all quality than a five star drama (Argo), but if it achieves its intended goal — namely, to scare the shit out of you — then I have no problem awarding it full marks. Gatsby promised drama, romance and glamour but (in my opinion) only delivered the last part. Now, I think the majority of the Furious films suck, but they do make simple promises: burnouts, biceps and big ass set pieces, and this latest entry more than hits its requisite quota, in fact, it’s the best of the bunch.
Following the convoluted (and frankly, confusing) timeline of the previous films, Furious 6 finds Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his ethnically diverse gang (Hello, international box office!) living happily after their successful heist in Rio. The gang are lurched out of their ludicrous retirements (no pun!) when Special Agent Hobbs (The Rock) comes calling. Hobbs is up against a zippy new threat — immaculately Goateed terrorist Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) — and Hobbs needs a crew of Toretto’s calibre to bring him to justice. Hobbs offers amnesty to the gang, but that is not the driving force (ok, that was definitely a pun) behind their involvement: one of Shaw’s henchmen/henchwoman is one of their own, Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez).
Full disclosure: I’ve never liked one of these films, not one. There are some that I can tolerate (the first and the fifth) but the majority of these films suck the fat one, and not just in a general sense, but an action sense. Most of the previous films have failed to utilise their resources: instead of stunts we get CGI, instead of bravado we get posturing, and instead of Vin Diesel we get Paul fucking Walker. Luckily, all of the aforementioned traits have been swapped around for this sixth entry (though Paully ‘Dead Eyes’ Walker still gets a subplot). In what must be a cinematic first, Director Justin Lin (responsible for entries 3, 4, 5 & 6) must actually listen to criticism and has been slowly rectifying the mistakes made in his previous films – hell, the way he is going, by the time they get to Sweet Fast 16, it might be up for Best Picture.
While Lin’s skill set is getting progressively better, the same can’t be said for recurring scribe Chris Morgan. Despite conjuring some enjoyably preposterous action sequences, Morgan’s characters are still thinly sketched at best and most of his emotional crises invoke yawns instead of tears. Luckily, Morgan’s sloppy, clichéd framework is elevated by lively, boisterous performances.
While it would be easy (and expected) to sleepwalk through this material, most of the cast seem intent on earning their pay checks. With the exception of Mr Walker, the old guard acquit themselves well, especially Mr Diesel, who, despite needing a lozenge, seems fully committed to the absurdly stoic Toretto – his administering of a flying head butt is one of the cinematic treats of 2013. One of this franchise’s smartest decisions (some would argue, it’s only) is its rapidly expanding cast; each entry brings new blood. The Rock readministers the charisma (and steroid) injection he gave Fast 5, Gina Carano threatens to out-pout Michelle Rodriguez and Luke Evans gives this series it’s most compelling villain yet (his ramp/go-cart is the balls).
Now, I must reiterate, Fast 6 is no masterpiece, but I must concur with the critical reception described in the first paragraph: I liked it more than Gatsby. I was dreading sitting through another one of these films, but Furious 6 kept me pinned to my seat, unlike Baz Luhrmann’s latest extravaganza. This is a perfectly serviceable (if lunkheaded) Friday night distraction, and in my book, that’s alright. So, if you’re getting dragged along to this, don’t fret, and, if you happen to be a card-carrying member of the rev head brigade, wear baggy pants, as this film is guaranteed to give you an erection (it took my housemate ten minutes to rise after the credits).