Furious 6 (2013)
★★★ / ★★★★
Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is in a pinch: desperate to capture the group responsible for taking down an entire military convoy in Russia, he seeks help from Toretto (Vin Diesel), leader of a successful multimillion dollar heist in Rio, now a retired international criminal. The main suspect is Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), believed to be assembling a tech bomb that can blind a country for twenty-four hours. But Toretto needs a good reason to give aid. Hobbs is one step ahead: inside a manila envelope is a photo of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Toretto’s former girlfriend, who is long believed to be dead.
“The Fast and the Furious” franchise enjoys a luxury that many other franchises do not possess: as each installment gets crazier, the more entertaining it becomes. More than ever, the chemistry among the actors feel exactly right, the action sequences are so out of this world—but well-executed—that its defiance against adhering to the laws of physics is not only welcome but expected, and it is a hell of a good time.
The wow factor is clearly present. Director Justin Lin has an eye for creating the most ridiculous chase scenes. A standout involves a chase after a botched Interpol mission in London. Though its sleek style is clearly inspired by Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight,” it does not settle for being a cheap carbon copy. The inspiration is in spirit but the presentation is signature: fast and ridiculously expensive cars crashing against each other and whatever is in the way. Pair these elements with a high-spirited score and sound effects as well as well-timed jokes and a sinking sensation that the good guys have little to no chance of coming out on top, a suspenseful action picture results.
The villain is interesting because Evans plays him quietly. The less he speaks, the more I wished to know more about him. His actions communicate a lot on their own. Thus, it is somewhat of a surprise that one scene rings completely false: Owen telling Toretto about his code. The former discusses the value of precision in their line of work. The entire scene feels too scripted—like it is designed solely to spell everything out for the audience.
A little detour in the US involving O’Conner (Paul Walker) cripples the pacing of the film just before the halfway point. I began to wonder if the material is creating some padding. If so, why? If the point was to enhance the story or the character, it does not succeed in either. This is usually a problem with the majority of movies that are over two hours long.
But once the action picks up again, it is difficult to look away: hand-to-hand battles that climax in a subway station, a chase involving a tank that weighs thirty tons (and demolishing everything in its path), and a plane being prevented from taking off. Each one is highly entertaining. I even caught myself saying “Ooh!” (“That’s got to hurt.”) and gasping out of sheer horror or disbelief.
The script may not be the film’s strongest point—there are a few corny lines—but the visuals more than make up for it. I came out of the movie wanting to drive my car really, really fast. That’s how I know it has done its job.