More “Furious” than “Fast” fuels “Fast & Furious 6”
Not long into “Fast & Furious 6,” cop-turned-criminal Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) warns his team that their newest mission is not what they’re used to dealing with. No cops, no drug dealers; it’s “a whole different level.”
That pretty much sums up the premise of the latest “Fast & Furious” film. It’s no longer just another movie about car racing; it’s an action-packed, fist-flying thriller that happens to use fast cars as a primary means of transportation. But that change isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Life is looking up for Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel), who has just started to enjoy the new life his stolen $11 million from “Fast Five” has bought him. That life is put on hold when abnormally large FBI agent Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) asks Dom and his team to help capture criminal mastermind Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) before he steals confidential government information. Dom agrees, but - SPOILER ALERT - only after he learns that his presumed-dead girlfriend, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), is alive and working as Shaw’s accomplice.
The adventure that follows shifts gears from the original “Fast & Furious” plots to one reminiscent of “Fast 5,” putting a heist-fueled conflict in full throttle and adding the cars for visual effect. Frequent and prolonged fist fights take up a surprisingly substantial amount of screen time, putting more emphasis on the “furious” rather than the “fast.” That’s not to say that cars are significantly disregarded (how else would Dom and his team get to the locations of these fights?). Director Justin Lin made sure to include one legitimate street race through London, complete with scantily clad women at the starting line and shiny, sleek cars.
In an interesting cinematic hybrid, certain elements of “Fast 6” look and feel characteristic of a James Bond film. Shaw’s drivers use innovative explosives against Dom’s team. The majority of the movie takes place in London. The material on the computer chip Shaw and his team are trying to steal even sounds like something Bond’s nemeses would covet: the codes to shut down an entire country for 24 hours, leaving it completely vulnerable. At one point, smooth talker Roman (Tyrese Gibson) compares their encounters with Shaw to “crazy 007” fights, to further clarify what type of movie Lin was going for.
Of course, it can’t be a summer action movie without a cheesy script and unbelievable stunts. Roman and Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) supply the witty, comedic lines, and Hobbs spits out similes like agitated camel. The entire film is strewn with feats so incredulous, its creators had to include a disclaimer discouraging road-ragers from copying the stunts. Cars fly through fire, Dom jumps out of vehicles moving at top speed, and a tank casually appears out of nowhere in the middle of a highway. It’s simultaneously ridiculous and intense, thanks to the cool aerial shots that accompany the high-speed chases.
You shouldn’t expect anything less from a showcase of vehicular acrobatics.
Stars: *** ½ out of five