Fast & Furious 6 [400+-Review]

Fast & The Furious 6 (2013)

“Checkered flag for fanatics, yellow warning flag for the rest of us.”

GRADE: 3/5 (C)

by Richard Rey

It took me over an hour and a half to realize that the NoS energy drink I had downed at films start was somehow connected to the Fast and the Furious franchise (thank God for product placement).  ‘So word on the street is true then, you’re not an FF fan!’ Nope. Of course, I suppose I’d have to be a follower in order to qualify as a fanatic. But since I’m neither of the two, perhaps my cinematic judgment of this sixth installment will allow me to take the action-flick purely at race-value: checkered flag for fanatics, yellow warning flag for the rest of us.

What started as a sexy, flashy, even edgy look into East L.A.’s underground street racing scene more than a decade ago, has quickly become a box office blockbuster franchise with more than $1.5 billion drifting in (to producer’s pockets) worldwide with the release of Fast Five ($625 million) just two years ago. Keep these numbers in mind the next time you’re tempted to scoff and inquire how Universal Pictures could possibly release yet another Vin Diesel-fueled chapter of the highly-successful action series.

Director Justin Lin’s most recent addition is an “inbetweequel” involving the much anticipated return of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez, still alive), now second-in-command to a violent military mastermind named Owen Shaw (Luke Evans, seething). When the lawful Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) approaches retired ex-con Dom Torreto (Vin Diesel) about a deal that would incarcerate Shaw and, more importantly, provide U.S. pardons to the scattered family of fugitives, it’s time, once again, for some high-octane heat and more badass crashes. Unfortunately, since the FF inception, it’s become infinitely more difficult to marvel moviegoers with stunts and SFX without the presence of a hammer-hefting or web-wielding Superhero (sorry Vin).

Whether we like it or not the Avenger-era is upon us; a period in which moviegoers’ impatience and inability to sit still and avoid social media for 90 minutes has led to faster, louder and bigger cinematic spectacles (Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, Man of Steel). To keep up, the Fast & the Furious would have to become Faster and, erm, Furiouser; and on that front the franchise has fallen laps behind. Even in its heavily-advertised vehicular warfare action sequences that brag a bullet-proof Flip Car that would impress Bruce Wayne, a ten-ton chieftain tank crushing the highways of the Canary Islands and a Russian Antanov plane cabled down by souped-up roadsters, the fuel-tank still seems only half-full (or half empty if you’re like me).

Now, that isn’t to say the movie won’t make money – it will, that’s why they made it; however, this film feels more geared toward the sappy sentiments of its faithful fanbase and less toward its titular trademark. As a critic, it’s both surprising and stirring to see the filmmakers slam on the brakes of the gratuitous use of sex, drugs and bloodshed in hopes of maintaining a first place spot in the box office this time around.

However, the lack of the aforementioned typical crowd-pleasers isn’t the problem. The underlying setback is that the action is really only occasional, leaving us with a chain of emotionally empty “moments” and a screening full of moments where all we want is for them to cut to the damned chase, literally. Sure, the movie has enough woah and oh shit moments to make it worthwhile, but the action is so dragged out it’ll leave most of us with a thumb in the air hoping to hitchhike in a faster ride.

The real entertainment lies in the comedy, drawing hilarious turns from former R&B artist Tyrese Gibson and his Asian counterpart Sung Kang who quip-for-quip easily match the Chris TuckerJackie Chan pairing of the Rush Hour series. While the laughter gives it cinematic swag, overall “it hits like thunder and disappears like smoke.” A functional installment that is not a complete wreck but can be summed up in one word: again – punctuation not included and left for you to decide.

Which brings me to my final rundown that only those who have seen the pic will appreciate: it smells more like baby-oil than the full-throttle pedal-to-the-metal fumes followers have been high on for the past twelve years.

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action and mayhem throughout, some sexuality and language

Runtime: 130 min

Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller

Director: Justin Lin

Writer: Chris Morgan (screenplay), Gary Scott Thompson (characters)

Stars: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker

Theatrical Release Date: Friday, May 24, 2013

Distributor: Universal Pictures

Special Thanks: Moroch PR (Florida)

Official Storyline (IMdB > Universal Pictures): Since Dom (Diesel) and Brian’s (Walker) Rio heist toppled a kingpin’s empire and left their crew with $100 million, our heroes have scattered across the globe. But their inability to return home and living forever on the lam have left their lives incomplete. Meanwhile, Hobbs (Johnson) has been tracking an organization of lethally skilled mercenary drivers across 12 countries, whose mastermind (Evans) is aided by a ruthless second-in-command revealed to be the love Dom thought was dead, Letty (Rodriguez). The only way to stop the criminal outfit is to outmatch them at street level, so Hobbs asks Dom to assemble his elite team in London. Payment? Full pardons for all of them so they can return home and make their families whole again.

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