Director: Justin Lin
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Luke Evans, Gina Carano, Jordana Brewster, Elsa Pataky, Sung Kank, Tyrese Gibson, Shea Wigham
Running time: 130 minutes
Agent Hobbs (Johnson) tracks down Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and his team, now living it up big style after their Rio de Janeiro job, to help track down ex-special forces agent Owen Shaw (Evans), a now super-criminal carrying out various vehicular-related crimes across Europe.
To quote Owen Williams’ review for Empire: “It’s objectionably terrible, but undeniably pleasurable.” That about sums up Fast & Furious 6 as well as it can be. The franchise has grown to be one of my favourite (for lack of a better phrase) guilty pleasures over the years, where down in my heart I know they’re not pieces of art, but damn are they a lot of fun. I find it easy to compare them to the Rambo movies, in that the first films of either franchise were actually quite grounded, character-based dramas that just happened to have a bit of car racing and/or running, jumping and shooting, while the sequels were all about the car racing and/or running, jumping and shooting, but just happened to have a bit of character in there as well. Now we’re on #6 (not of Rambo, obviously), and it’s moved to being all about the running, jumping and shooting, with a little bit of car racing, and a smidgen of character. Usually this should result in the immediate execution of the franchise, yet because it’s Fast & Furious it keeps hanging in there. There’s just that certain alluring charm that keeps drawing us back in. It’s silly, it’s over the top, it shouldn’t be good, but it’s so entertaining.
I’m going to defend this film on an issue that I’ve used so often to slate action movies, but bear with me. I think it’s important not to critique this on its artistic merits like script development and dialogue, or at least not solely, because it’s really not all that interested in either. But that’s not as bad as it sounds. Essentially it’s the same film as Fast Five, and Fast Four, and so on, with every character doing the same things, having the same conversations, and ultimately ending up in the same places. By this point, the franchise doesn’t care about sending the characters on new paths or making them grow, not really, because it just wants to have a load of fun. Now like I say, I myself have argued on more than one occasion that just because a film is an action film doesn’t make it exempt from having basic qualities like half-decent dialogue, a bit of character development and a purpose (it doesn’t), but with Fast & Furious it just feels less problematic. We know these characters and what we want them to do; let’s just let them do it.
One of the more restrained set pieces
There isn’t much to say about the cast because, as has been pointed out, they’re all doing exactly what they’ve done before, but the notable new entrant is Gina Carano, of Haywire fame. She gained a lot of praise from critics in that role, but it really didn’t work for me. I didn’t enjoy the film itself, and I thought Carano was too weak to lead such a strong cast. However, I remained open-minded about her in case that was just a bad egg, and perhaps it was, because here she’s not half bad. In a far more subdued role as Hobbs’ (who I think we can all agree is the best thing to happen to the franchise) cop partner, she draws less attention to herself and just gets on with it. Her fight with Rodriguez is a highlight.
It could do with shaving about twenty minutes off the running time. Blockbusters seem to be going all Michael Bay these days with their length, which isn’t inherently a problem, but it feels more often than not that they don’t need the extra time. Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Great Gatsby and Man Of Steel all sit around two and a half hours, and I wouldn’t be surprised is Pacific Rim joins them.
It’s not as outrageously entertaining as Fast Five, and it’s easy to laugh at the amount of box ticking that goes on, yet it’s still doing everything the fans want, and the central group of characters remain great fun to spend time with. One thing, though: how long is that runway?