Saturday, May 25, 2013

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

Director: Justin Lin
Notable Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Gina Carano, Luke Evans, Joe Taslim

When Justin Lin took over the "Fast & Furious" franchise, his style and attentive penchant for action made a terrible film like "Tokyo Drift" watchable. It was when he started really building a film arc with "Fast & Furious" in 2009 that this franchise actually became interesting. Although the sixth entry into the series, with a title card on the film reads "Furious 6", might not be as surprisingly fun and awesome as the previous film "Fast Five," it might just be bigger and dumber than any film before it - which is actually a compliment considering how entertaining it is. The writing might be hit or miss and some of the characters might be throw away, but it fully knows this and runs with it anyway. A true statement to just how well Lin knows this series.

After the Rio heist, Dom (Diesel) and his crew have scattered across the world to enjoy their wealth even if they are still considered international criminals. When Hobbs (Johnson) shows up on his doorstep with pictures of Letty (Rodriguez), Dom decides he needs to help out the law enforcer catch a team of thieves trained in 'vehicular warfare' and led by Shaw (Evans). With the help of his brother in law Brian (Walker) and some selected members, Dom is out to reclaim his past - and set things right for the future.

"I swear to God, if you mention 'family' again I will go and do a "Timeline 2"...seriously."
First things first, if you are at all offended by silly one liners, extensive moral discussions about the value of family, relentless action sequences, or generally dislike plot progressions that seem completely illogical - then what the hell are you doing reading this review? It's a movie called "Fast & Furious 6." It stars Vin Diesel and The Rock. You will not like this. If, on the other hand, action films get you excited and you wanna see ridiculous amounts of banter and the laws of physics completely ignored - then you should skip the rest of this review and immediately go see this film. Seriously. Just go see it.

If you've reached this point, then you probably need a little more convincing to justify seeing the sixth film in a franchise that was created on car racing. I understand. So let me say that this: "Furious 6" is silly and makes little to no sense plot wise. That's all right though. In the land of Dom and his highly skilled road warriors, this film actually has plot and characters unlike a good portion of the films earlier. Our heroes are all their lovable tough and sensitive selves here and the chemistry between them still runs pretty strong. This chemistry sells its many hard to swallow concepts and ideas. Diesel gravel talks his way through the film using a strong screen presence to win here, while The Rock continues to steal the show more as comic relief here when he's not leaping off of thing and wearing the tightest clothes known to man. As a benefit, Ludacris has essentially become the Q of this franchise which is a role that he does remarkably well. While the middle portion of the film drags a bit as they all do their own thing outside of banter ridiculous lines (including a completely useless jail stint for Brian - which as Dom points out later as pointless too), it's these interactions that lay the ground work for what we truly came to see...

I think the cast list should also be comprised of stuntmen.
Essentially, this time around we also get to see our "heroes" actually be heroes instead of crooks on the run and Lin uses that to many advantages. He builds an entire team of baddies for our guys to go toe to toe with. This includes a villainous Luke Evans - channeling a bit of 006 Sean Bean super crook style here, Joe Taslim, and Michelle Rodriguez. I should also mention that they found a guy bigger than Samoan Thor aka The Rock for a fight later on, which is impressive in itself. Essentially, each of our heroes has their own Bizarro world self to fight (that is hilariously pointed out by one of our heroes in the film). This idea that our 'heroes' are the lesser of two evils makes for some great confrontations and leads us to what we truly came to see...

...and we came to see action. Ridiculous amounts of over the top, outrageous, and exciting action. Justin Lin may have a ton of style as a director, but dammit this guy knows how to do action and he punctuates "Furious 6" with enough action to make Ahhhnuld choke. While "Fast Five" took the franchise to the next level with car stunts, gun fights, and one awesome fist to cuffs, "Furious 6" looks to out do it in every way. More car stunts thanks mostly to cars made to flip other cars, a tank chase which demolishes bridges, cars, and eventually itself, multiple fist fighting beatdowns, and an airplane wreck on the longest runway ever built that lasts for an entire act. Hell, there is even a prison fight shank-off. At this point, this franchise with its exotic locales and over the top action is getting to James Bond level of awesome. What really impressed me the most was the extensive and very strong hand fights that accompanied most of the film. Although the Joe Taslim (oh yes, I have to mention him at least twice due to my love of "The Raid") fight is a little short, the rest of the film has some stunningly awesome fights. As a huge fight film fan, I was ecstatic for this.

"Gina, I know you only have like two lines of dialogue - but just know that I plan to eat those scenes alive."
All in all, despite some issues with its second act, "Furious 6" impressed as a sequel to one of my favorite action films. It still has rigorous action and the chemistry of its lovable characters to sell the entire thing. It also finally addresses the issue of "Tokyo Drift" and its continuity with perhaps the greatest precursor cameo of all time. This one highly comes recommended as it will probably be the most entertaining film of the summer, if not 2013. Ride or die!

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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