The fun thing about the Fast and Furious franchise is that it knows it’s ridiculous. With its preposterous, adrenaline-fueled stunts that would destroy the average car in seconds, the film is really a cartoon in a live-action setting. Have there really been six of these?
When you think back to the numbskull origins of the first film and its irresponsible theme of dangerous underground car-racing on public roads, Fast and Furious has evolved into something else, and it’s so much better for it.
If you’re worried that, like me, you can’t remember the details of what happened last time, or any of the times before, it doesn’t really matter. The film is generally self-contained in three complete acts, and even though there are references to what has happened to some of these characters in previous adventures and what their relationships are to each other, Fast and Furious 6 brings you up to speed in minutes. There is a even a brief reminder of past moments that run throughout the opening credits. The clips are not exactly a story-so-far montage, more like a how-cool-was-this? mishmash.
In outing number six, government agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson, who in his tightly stretched t-shirt actually looks freakishly bulkier than the Hulk without the need for green) needs the help of the very people he’s been hunting. He’s after a British villain called Shaw and he wants some assist from Toretto (Vin Diesel) and former FBI agent turned criminal, O’Conner (Paul Walker). “Full pardons all round,” insists O’Conner. “Give me Shaw,” Hobbs states, “And I’ll get you your pardons.” And we’re off.
From there, the film takes on a kind of James Bond persona, jumping around the globe to exotic locations such as Moscow, Los Angeles, Tokyo and London. Surprisingly, the bulk of the film takes place in London, which is curious for several reasons. “This is the worst city in the world to commit a crime,” Hobbs announces as if he had just read the script and was thinking what I was thinking.
First, more than most major cities of the world, there are cameras everywhere. Second, there are no guns, so don’t expect shoot-outs in city streets, plus the metro center is so densely populated with cars literally bumper to bumper all day, every day, that the average speed of a vehicle can be no more than ten miles per hour – a curious setting for any film called Fast and Furious. Yet the movie still manages to slide in at least one underground car race that takes Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel racing through Piccadilly Circus and eventually to Battersea Power Station – which is actually on the other side of the River Thames – reaching speeds between ninety and a hundred miles an hour. That’s a special effect in itself.
The climax is a car chase on an airfield with all the gang in pursuit of a massive plane. The chase lasts for a breath-taking fifteen minutes with stunts that are so over-the-top you can’t help but laugh at how outrageous the whole thing is, not to mention that this airfield must house the longest runway in the world – it never ends. I was reminded of those Tom & Jerry cartoons where the cat chases the mouse running through the house in what must be the largest and longest living room in history.
At more than two hours in length, Fast and Furious 6 is too long; it’s also idiotic, dumb and spectacularly absurd, but the fun thing is it knows it’s all these things and celebrates it to excess. Plus, in case you’re wondering, yes, there will definitely be a 7. In a brief scene that comes right in the middle of the end credits, an A-list action star reveals himself to be a future baddie. For the fun of the surprise, I’ll keep his identity under wraps, but for the record, as soon as he stepped out of his car in the middle of Tokyo the preview audience let out a collective roar of approval. Come to think of, I believe I might have made a noise, too.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 Length: 130 minutes Overall Rating: 7 (out of 10)