Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Directed by: Justin Lin
Premise: A CIA agent (Dwayne Johnson) recruits the team of car thieves led by Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian (Paul Walker) to bring down an international criminal whose crew includes a former ally (Michelle Rodriguez).
What Works: The Fast and the Furious series is all about delivering automotive thrills and the sixth installment continues much of what its fans have enjoyed about the previous movies. Fast & Furious 6 has the same kinds of chases and action sequences that are at the core of the appeal of these movies and these scenes are executed about as well as the action of the previous films. There is clearly a desire by the filmmakers to top what has been done in earlier installments and Fast & Furious 6 includes a lot of outrageous stunts and set pieces that are as enjoyable as they are ridiculous. The film is also helped by how funny it is. Tyrese Gibson and Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges are allowed a lot of room for banter, which is refreshing given how self-serious a lot of earlier Fast and the Furious movies could be.
What Doesn’t: The filmmakers’ attempt to deliver a bigger and better product is admirable but Fast & Furious 6 is overwhelming in the wrong way. The picture is too big and overstuffed for its own good while the story is too thin. Narrative was never the strong suit of The Fast and the Furious series, but even a movie like this needs enough of a plot to give the film a dramatic shape and add weight and consequence to the action sequences. The problem is that Fast & Furious 6 is the kind of action picture in which the story was designed to accommodate the set pieces instead of the other way around and the dramatic and comedic moments come across as filler to break up the car chases. The movie runs nearly two-and-a-half hours and there is no reason for it to be that long. This is very uneconomical storytelling, with many scenes accomplishing nothing except allowing an excuse for a fight or a car chase. There is an entire subplot involving Paul Walker’s character returning to America in order to uncover some secret from a jailed drug lord, but what Walker’s character finds out is unclear and ultimately has no bearing on the outcome of the story. Fast & Furious 6 also suffers from a weak MacGuffin; the object that the heroes and the villains fight over is vague and the filmmakers failure to make the competition over this object compelling means there is nothing practically or emotionally at stake. The lack of a competent story is especially frustrating in this movie because it spoils the headway made in the previous film. Fast Five was refreshing in that it introduced a new law enforcement presence and reinvigorated the series with a fresh sense of urgency. Fast & Furious 6 undoes much of what the fifth movie accomplished. Instead it falls back on the familiar tropes of earlier Fast and the Furious movies. However, the filmmakers of this new installment miss one of the key elements that made the series popular with its fans. The appeal of The Fast and the Furious is rooted in its action but also its characters and the allure of the outlaw. The characters in Fast & Furious 6 are no longer the dangerous criminals that they once were and this movie loses the Wild West appeal that made this series interesting.
Bottom Line: Everything in Fast & Furious 6 is turned up to eleven there is very little in it that is actually innovative. As the sixth entry in the series the movie needs something more to distinguish it from previous entries but audiences have seen this all before.
Episode: #441 (June 2, 2013)