Director: Justin Lin (Fast 5, Fast & Furious, Tokyo Drift, Annapolis)
Screenplay: Chris Morgan
Producers: Vin Diesel, Neal H. Moritz, Clayton Townsend
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Luke Evans, Gina Carano
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 130 min.
I feel like I’ve been championing the awesomeness of the Fast & Furious franchise from the first entry in 2001 and in a moment of retrospect, I went back and looked at some reviews from earlier in the franchise only to discover, to my surprise considering how much I enjoy it now, I disliked Fast and Furious (review), the movie that re-united “the team” with director Justin Lin who first came on board for Tokyo Drift. I still stand by my complaints, though I’ve come to see the story heavy movie a trial run for the rest of the movies to come and by the time we got to Fast 5 (review), writer Chris Morgan and Lin had found a great balance between cheesy emotional moments and over the top, exhilarating car action. With Fast & Furious 6, the formula is down to a science and boy does it ever work.
As was hinted in the stinger of Fast 5 Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Dom’s presumed dead lover, is alive and well and in cahoots with an evil version of Dom’s crew, led by Owen Shaw, who are one component away from putting together a weapon worth billions to the right buyer. In need of expert help, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), the hard ass cop from the last instalment, enlists the help of Dom and his crew to take down Shaw, get Letty back and in the process also get themselves clear of the law so they can return stateside.
It’s actually a pretty great story idea and one that the crew has slowly been working towards since the first movie. They’re criminals but they’re likable criminals with their own “code” and a, somewhat twisted, sense of right and wrong but when it comes to family, there’s no stopping them and they sign on to this crazy plan for Dom who is determined to get Letty back at any cost. ANY cost.
Queue the implausible plotting which at one point pits Dom and Shaw face-to-face with the cops nearby and yet Shaw drives away safe and sound, lacklustre emotional moments most notably from Brian (Paul Walker is trying so hard!) and more than a handful of spectacular action sequences and there you have it; a winning combination.
The hand to hand action sequences have mostly been kept to a minimum in the franchise which is mostly populated by mind blowing car sequences, but Fast 5 made great use of on-foot action with Dom’s chase sequence through the barrio of Rio but here the ante is upped tenfold. Not only are there fight sequences but they’re wonderfully choreographed and edited, on a number of occasions via intercutting two different sequences. It’s used to great effect and ups the ante on a movie that is already loaded with action. Regardless of what type of story Morgan fuses to the franchise, at it’s core Fast & Furious is all about the car porn and though there isn’t as much oogling as there used to be, the cars are still here as are the killer sequences. Sure, most of them go against the laws of physics but who the hell cares? We’ve long ago established that reality isn’t really part of the stories here but at least Lin and his crew always deliver clearly visible, high energy sequences. How they do it, I’m not sure but their chase sequences never feel overly long and they never lose steam. It’s one of the magic elements of the franchise.
So while some wonder about the magic formula for the success of the franchise is (my money is on the likeable and diverse cast, the fine balance of action and dramedy and the spectacle of it all) others, myself included, wonder if Fast & Furious 7 will manage to sustain the energy of the franchise without Justin Lin at the helm (and perhaps with the loss of one of the favoured team members). That remains to be seen but if crowd reaction last night (days after the movie’s release) is any indication, the fans are more than ready for another adventure.