Especially when they have titles like 2 Fast 2 Furious, sequels can easily be met with the response of, “They made another one? Oh, whatever.” And in such a multiplex era that loves sequel-izing anything that will get decent opening weekend numbers, there are indeed plenty of questionable second, third, or even fourth films to franchises that might have even peaked at the first one. (Did anyone even like Hangover Part II? Not a rhetorical question.)
However, like a shining V-8 engine Dodge Charger roaring into the opposite flow of heavy traffic, there’s Fast & Furious 6, a fifth sequel that gives the enterprise of sequels a good name, and the idea of experiencing summer movies a definitive purpose. Wanting more of a franchise storyline doesn’t have to be a bad thing, especially if it’s a follow-up to the amazing Fast Five. And for franchises with rising budgets, more money can mean even more greatness. With Fast & Furious 6, here is when making a sequel turns out to be a glorious, if potentially orgasmic, idea.
In this round, the infamous California car gang led by gear head Dom Toretto (Diesel) and his crime bro Brian (Walker) find themselves speeding around Europe, with recently added members from their gang in tow. This includes the two jokesters, Roman and Tej, played by Tyrese Gibson and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Han (Sung Kang) from Tokyo Drift, his lady friend Gisele (Gal Gadot), and Brian’s wife Mia (Jordana Brewster). Added to the lineup in this round is the awesome kicker of all types of ass Gina Carano, who led the under-appreciated action movie Haywire last year.
The group, currently hiding from the international law for not-so-subtly snatching a bank vault in Rio in their last adventure, is recruited by former adversary Hobbs to help track down a former SAS agent gone evil named Shaw (Luke Evans), who has his own ragtag group of automobile-inclined ruffians. Shaw plans to steal technology that will make for a very powerful weapon for the highest bidder. On top of this, Shaw has made his vengeance against the world personal for Dom & co., for he has recruited Dom’s girlfriend thought to be dead, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), and manipulated her through her amnesia to use her skills for evil.Lead star (and producer) Diesel continues to find a cozy home in the Fast and Furious franchise, where he doesn’t have to exert himself too much. Even while talking, he seems to have challenged himself to move his mouth as least as possible (a night and day difference from how Diesel presents himself in various F&F DVD special features). As for his action requirements, aside from sneaky editing in a sequence when he is shown roughing up guys in a pawn shop, Diesel proves to be worth many a solid punch or kick, and is also a believable lunk head behind his all-American wheel.
In the same manner of watching Vin Diesel, it’s cute what Walker is trying to pull off here as an action man. However suitable and comfortable he is in this movie, however, it doesn’t indicate that he could work in nearly any other action movie. These two need this franchise just as much as it needs them. Especially in this film, Walker needs others to make his presence special, whether it is operating opposite the now-domesticated Jordana Brewster, or sharing a scene with John Ortiz. Most of all, Walker carries nostalgia more than he does bravura, and yes, he can still look believable driving a car. His origins of frosted tips are forgotten with his new role in the franchise, which is no small feat.
Carrying his malevolence with properness, Evans proves to be a striking villain, boosted by his character’s own engineering creativity. Smaller than the muscle coming his way from Toretto, Hobbs and gang, he is not meant to be an extreme physical adversary (that’s saved for Shaw’s henchman who is nicknamed “the muscle”), and such a dynamic is very welcome. To have three main competitors fighting over each other and muscle milk would be exhausting. Instead, in a story in which everyone is paired with their bizarro versions (as recognized by Gibson) Evans becomes a compelling mental adversary of different ideologies about family. Dom thinks that it is necessary for family to always stick together, regardless of the circumstances; Shaw thinks that family only holds a person down.
This movie may not be a Pain & Gain-level home run for Dwayne Johnson, but the character of Hobbs, a grand addition to the Fast & Furious films, is a good franchise role for him, with speedy jokes, visceral muscle, and hulking action moments. Bridges and Gibson bring a strong amount of legitimately funny material to the movie’s essential elements of comic relief, and Gina Carano is at home in such a franchise that aptly uses her pure fighting skills.
However, aside from the action figures in the movie, the real star of Fast & Furious 6, along with the other past two films from the franchise, are the action sequences from increasingly impressive director Justin Lin. The action sequences of director Lin’s Fast and Furious movies are gifts to multiplex audiences who have lost that lovin’ feeling (“oh oh that lovin’ feelin'”) of when a massive, expensive action sequence has a quality that is almost overwhelmingly thrilling and visceral. Once again, after the fantastic moments in Fast Five, Furious 6 follows up with action servings that are equal in volume, but even larger in size. While many films seem to be confused as to what can be done with their big budgets, Lin and his filmmaking crew have incredible confidence in their daring sequences. If this is what Lin and crew can do with a regular blockbuster budget, I can only imagine the glory they would achieve with a highly fantastical $500 million budget.
Because Fast Five was so great, it remains to be seen over time if much of Furious 6 tops Fast Five in terms of having the overall best sequences, but it let be known that this movie is another masterpiece of stunt action; amazing visual moments that turn practical stunt work into an art form, and constantly exceed the expectations of an already ballooning franchise. An extreme thrill in watching this film was witnessing it grow. Let it be known, in a movie season that includes a new Superman movie, a new Wolverine movie, and a whole bunch of other expensive big kahunas – the summer of 2013 is practically ended prematurely by this film’s third act. It caused me to convulse in my chair in excitement, and at one time without being conscious, the phrase, “This movie is fucking awesome” escaped from my soul and out onto the screen that was constantly forever raising my expectations for all action movies.
A franchise that has now reached turbo speed proves itself to be a top dog with its fifth sequel, an Avengers-sized bonanza of magnificent action sequences that eschew CG while reminding audiences of the art form that is stunt performing. Even adding more characters to the mix doesn’t harm this franchise focused on family, but allots director Lin more opportunities to stack up fight sequences. With even more fight scenes to work with, Lin shows he is a dream action director.
Keeping in heart with Lin’s directorial daredevil-like mentality of continually pushing the spectacle while staying within the realm of a preset science, this is a beautiful movie that gets big, bigger, and then it’s huge, all while keeping a mindful eye for a non-manipulative left turn. The second-to-last sequence of this movie, involving a highway chase, is usually when most franchises would close down pre-production and call it a day. But Fast & Furious 6 proves its ambition is like no other franchise today, and goes for one more massive action sequence afterward that provides more action brilliance, and is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
As if it wasn’t clear from the previous Fast Five, this franchise has grown from its origins of car porn heavily sponsored by NOS. Frosted tips are donezo, no one still really cares what Paul Walker’s character’s name is, but the drive for thrills is more addictive than ever. The desire to showing real cars being smashed in the earlier films has evolved into a wonderful obedience to the type of action you can’t fake. In the face of other franchises and sequels overridden with CG, we can now trust in the Fast & Furious movies for providing the consistently monumental spectacle no one else dares to make a reality.