Director: Justin Lin
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Dwayne Johnson, Gina Carano, Tyrese Gibson, Sun Kang, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Gal Godot, Elsa Pataky, Luke Evans
Running Time: 130 minutes
Release Date: May 17
“Okay Lamborghini mercy/your chick, she so thirsty/I’m in that two-seat lambo with your girl/she tryna jerk me.”
That’s the hook from Kanye West’s ‘Mercy’, a posse cut that’s not unlike The Fast and Furious franchise—car centric, daft and incredibly fun. The series has seen, like all posse cuts, a cavalcade of personalities all jumping on a verse for something good, yet rarely great. With Fast Five, greatness was achieved with the addition of—as GI Joe: Retaliation director Jon M. Chu so elegantly phrased it “franchise viagra”—Dwayne Johnson who ended up Godzilla-stomping all over Rio de Janeiro and ensuring a box office haul bigger than the first three movies combined.
With the gang all back for another round, Fast & Furious 6 takes on the obvious trait of scaling up for the sequel. With the crew all living off their $100,000,000 payoff from the Rio heist, Dom Toretto (Diesel) brings the family back together after DSS agent Hobbs (Johnson) recruits him to take down a team of mercenaries specialising in military hijackings led by former SAS major Owen Shaw (a surprisingly cold and calculated Luke Evans) and Dom’s thought to be dead ex-squeeze Letty (the forever sullen Michelle Rodriguez.)
It’s probably a moot point for such a ridiculously daft franchise but what makes Fast & Furious 6 suffer is the fact that it’s just not that clever. What worked for its predecessors so well was its heist angle which made it all play out like Oceans 11 on a cocktail of cocaine and PEDs. In upping the ante and settling on a simpler revenge tale, Lin has lost a lot of the whizzy fun. When things work—there may not be a smarter and meticulously choreographed scene then a chase through London with modified military Formula 1 cars—it’s a blast, but when they don’t—a confusing finale on an infinite runway—you’re pulled right out of the action and reminded just how stupid what you’re watching is.
Pushing the realms of credibility, Furious 6 doesn’t so much as nuke the fridge as launch them at each other from speeding cars and tanks over median strips. I haven’t seen the fourth installment, but that’s the one where they all got adamantium skeletons, right? It’s a world of heightened reality that Toretto operates in—one where Ludacris is a techno-savant and navigating London streets is a pleasant, uncongested affair. Still, it carries a good message: buckle up, and you’ll probably be grand.
There’s still so much to be enjoyed though, particularly in the new additions. The last time we saw Gina Carano, she was kicking seven shades of shite out of Michael Fassbender in the Shelbourne Hotel, and here as a member of Hobbs’ team, she enjoys some brutal scraps with Rodriguez that put the mens’ bouts of fisticuffs to shame. Fast Five sits only behind The Raid: Redemption as the best action flick of the past five years, so adding the latter’s Joe Taslim delivers a much needed nitrous boost to the hand-to-hand hammerdowns.
Of the old guard, Walker spends half the run time off on his own while Jordana Brewster’s presence has been relegated entirely to getting into danger, all of the time. Dom’s quasi-religious devotion to family—he’ll one day be the founder of the Toretto Church of Kith and Kin where BBQ’d meat and Coronas are substituted for the body and blood of Christ—gives him the strongest arc as he refuses to give up on Letty, grunting, “you don’t turn your back on family, even when they do.” The Rock, receiver of the perfect appellation ‘Samoan Thor’, struggles a little this time around. The material isn’t there for him yet his tandem with Diesel might be the greatest tag-team since The Legion of Doom last rode.
It’s unlikely in a Summer of serious sequels that there’ll be a movie more self-aware or fun than Fast & Furious 6. So put your brain in the boot and, for two hours, live your life a quarter mile at a time. Just remember to wear a seatbelt.