James Smith’s quick-fire insight into the world of movies. Here he checks out Fast & Furious 6, an outrageous testosterone party, packed with cheesy morals and vehicular carnage on an epic scale.
Directed by Justin Lin
Starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker
The producers of the Fast & Furious franchise are in an enviable position; look around the cinema prior to curtain up and you'll see the place packed - young revheads prodding their mobiles, barely able to contain themselves until the first throaty roar of a V8 and the dulcet tones of hero car criminal, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel). Whilst other multi-million budget films struggle to generate a buzz on a rainy Monday night, this vehicular cheese-fest strolls to the top of the box office charts without even getting into second gear.
Fast & Furious takes the simple truth that youngsters like cars, burning rubber, and action. Mix that with babes and smooth talking brawn and you have a winner. In fact, with its underlying humour and 12A rating, the target audience is much wider than one would expect, perhaps entering ‘family entertainment’ territory - a notion intense petrolheads in the audience might baulk at as they flex their pecks and jangle their car keys.
In this, the sixth of the series, Toretto, and his gang of criminal car racers earned so much from their last heist in Rio, that they’re taking life easy in exotic locations around the world. Even Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) becomes all Dad-like with a newborn and doting wife. The former petrolheads’ retirement is brought to an abrupt end, however, by Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), the former foe and Interpol officer out to track down crazed international criminal, Shaw (Luke Evans). Shaw seems intent on world domination - but only if loads of rubber is burnt and vehicles trashed in the process. Hobbs pays Toretto a visit, strutting around with biceps looking like a couple of over-inflated water wings, and laying down his terms: help me track down Shaw with your team of criminal road racers, and in return, you’ll be pardoned for past misdemeanors and road carnage. But that’s not enough. It’s only when Hobbs brings Toretto’s former love interest, Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), into the equation that a deal can be made. Letty should be dead and she’s not, thus Hobbs’ immediate interest, and a fine piece of bribery from the inflatable foe. Curiously, Hobbs’ current bed partner doesn’t seem to blink an eyelid at this and encourages him to head off to trash wheeled metal without a moment to spare. Even curiouser is O'Conner’s wife, who is of a similar mindset, “you work better together”. Fortunately, with the obscure motive and bland domestic back story done with, the film can move swiftly on to its forte: unadulterated action mayhem.
Many of the road battles take place in London, a spectacular and effective tour of the city with an element of dark claustrophobia in the tight streets. The scenes are inventive, gripping, and enough to keep boy racers and Bond-esque gadget fans content. If anyone questions the movie’s action credentials (doubtful), then check out the awesome fight choreography in the London Underground. The bitch fight between Letty and Riley (Gina Carano) is particularly gripping, culminating in a bone-crunching stair dive. Moving to Spain, the vehicle sequences become more prolonged and far-fetched, but the story is complimented by a liberal splash of humour and good lines, especially those from the likeable Tyrese Gibson who plays Roman.
With most of the car sequences just about hanging onto ‘believable’, it’s a shame the director sometimes lets them go into ‘bonkers’, though this does add further laughs - but maybe for the wrong reasons. One example is Letty’s flight across a dual carriageway to be met midair by Hobbs, and then a landing on a conveniently positioned car boot (try that on the A127). Outrageous yes, but not as jaw dropping as Letty’s stone-faced line to Hobbs soon after, "how did you know a car would be there to break our fall?” to which his reply is an equally stone-faced, “I didn't”.
In a way, the brooding nature of the muscle-bound petrolheads with their one-liners against lilting soundtrack is amusing, almost quaint. These tender interludes add dynamics and give a bit of soul to the daft plot. Somehow, the formula seems to work, and if nothing else, Fast & Furious 6 is an incredible feat of production that appeals to big audiences. And as the credits roll, we see this trait set to continue - Jason Statham puts in an appearance to signal the arrival of a new man of muscle into the fray.
Review by @jsmithwriter