May 24, 2013 by Paul Curtin
Illegal street racing isn’t what it used to be. Maybe I’m just getting old, but it seems like the days of taking your momma’s Honda Civic and slapping a body kit on it, along with some cheap rims, lights, and stickers, are things of the past — and thankfully so. With the car community maturing, the Fast franchise too has grown up over the years, trading in ugly Civics and Jettas for sleek Supras and Skylines, and in the latest installment, pushing what’s believable and not street-legal to the limit.
With so many movies already in the franchise, it might be hard for most to keep track of everything that has happened so far. For me, the long three-day Memorial Day weekend was the perfect time to re-watch all five previous films and gain a new respect for the franchise that many like to brush off as just stupid car porn. While the beautiful cars and women, great music, and big stunts might be what puts asses in seats, it’s the well-developed characters that keep audiences coming back for more. The sixth film continues with the main theme of family, and after watching the same characters develop over the past twelve years, it makes you feel like part of theirs.
The story getting better and better as every twist and turn of the plot is revealed can be attributed to the vision of director Justin Lin and writer Chris Morgan. The pair took over the series with the third film in the series, Tokyo Drift, and did their best with no returning characters aside from a very brief cameo by Vin Diesel in the end. The box office returns would signal that the franchise was losing its pace, but by bringing the main characters back for the next three sequels, the series has become bigger and stronger than ever.
Oddly enough, one of the best parts of Fast & Furious 6 is in fact its story. While it won’t win any awards, the story is solid and continues to tease audiences by introducing new plot twists and big-name action star reveals. Considering that Tokyo Drift actually takes place after the events of Fast & Furious (the fourth movie), Fast Five, and Fast & Furious 6, what Lin and Morgan have been doing with the story of the franchise’s later half is brilliant. Each character is given his or her fair share of camera time to shine and everyone except newcomer Gina Carano feels perfect for their roles. Carano’s fight sequences are superb, and she plays her character well, but her acting is still a bit too stiff like many had complained about in Haywire.
The plot itself isn’t much different than Fast Five: Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), Han (Sung Kang), and the rest of the gang are forced to get back together for “one last job” with Hobbs (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) now in charge. Of course, with Fast Five setting the bar pretty high, the stakes are higher, the stunts are bigger, and the main bad guys are badder. Fast 6 is almost all nonstop action with the stunts continually getting more and more over-the-top, no matter how ridiculously unrealistic they might be. One night chase scene in particular features a vehicle that looks stolen right out of Batman’s garage and Lin even manages to create the same look and feel Nolan did with The Dark Knight. As long as you’re willing to not argue with any sort of logic, you won’t have any complaints about the action, except for that unfortunately most of the stunts and ending have already been spoiled for anybody that saw the crazy Super Bowl commercial.
With so many characters constantly leaving and coming back into the picture throughout the nonlinear narrative of the series, it may seem like there are just too many people to keep track of. But because of pre-established connections many have already made with the cast over the past decade, it’s easy to keep track of everything that’s going on in between all of the insane action. By using character development from pre-existing history amongst the crew, there are tons of funny moments, and the story never feels too congested with too many subplots going on at once. Like the tagline says, all roads have lead to this, and director Justin Lin’s final take on the series has done a great job making sure everyone and everything stays on track in the fast lane.
Arguably the best yet in a franchise that seems to be defying the odds and keeps getting better with age, Fast 6 is almost everything you could want in a fun summer blockbuster. It’s hard to imagine how the series can top itself after all roads have lead to this… but with the way the series keeps going, soon where it’s going won’t need roads… Despite director Justin Lin leaving, what’s he’s done to set up Fast 7 has it looking even more promising with another A-list action star showing up in one of the best extra scenes during the credits ever. I won’t ruin the surprise (you can find out here), but what I will say is it’s a perfect transition into the next film with an actor whose résumé is perfect for his new role and has us excited to see what’s in store next. Fast & Furious 6 gets 4 out of 5 stars (Great).