Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

I continue making my way through the Fast and Furious series, intending to be caught up by the time the newest film, THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS (2017), is released this April.

FAST & FURIOUS 6 (2013) is tremendous fun, as good or better than the previous series high point, FAST FIVE (2011).

The series just keeps getting better. The movies have come a long way from the relatively simple street racing of the earliest films; we’re in superhero territory now, and while much of the film may be unbelievable, it’s all grand fun, the perfect mix of action, comedy, and drama...and as a bonus, it's partly set in my favorite city, London. The film may not be "art," per se, but you won't find a better popcorn movie.

This time around Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) needs the help of retired criminal Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his team in order to take out a criminal (Luke Evans) who's pulled a sophisticated heist with fast cars. The fate of much of the free world may hang in the balance. Or something like that.

The bait for Dom and his "family" is that Hobbs has evidence that Dom's old love Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), thought dead, is still alive. If the gang helps Hobbs, they'll not only find Letty but receive full pardons.

Dom's sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and ex-cop Brian (Paul Walker) are now parents, but Mia immediately supports Brian aiding Dom in order to "bring Letty home." Also answering the call are Tej (Ludacris), Han (Sun Kang), Gisele (Gal Gadot), and Roman (Tyrese Gibson).

There's just one problem, in that when the Torretto gang goes off to war, they neglect to protect those left behind: Mia, baby Jack, and Dom's girlfriend Elena (Elsa Pataky).

In a dozen years’ worth of movies we’ve gotten to know the large cast and their relationships, and compelling new characters have been added. Could there be a more perfect addition to the cast than Dwayne Johnson as Agent Hobbs? There was a scene 18 minutes in where he took a large gun to a vending machine which had me laughing till I cried.

On one level the movie is completely unbelievable, whether it's characters flying through the air and landing unhurt or a plane trying to take off on what must be the longest runway in the world, based on how long it takes the crew to bring it down.

On another level, though, there's a great deal of down-to-earth heart, camaraderie, and emphasis on family. The continuity and traditions of a dozen years' worth of movies to this point make the movies about much more than just wrecking an unbelievable number of cars. I especially enjoy that grace is always said before meals in these films; indeed, the movie closes with a prayer of thanksgiving, ending with the delightful final line “Thank You for fast cars!”

Not all the characters make it through, and it's sad to see them go; in fact, one meets his end in a “tag” scene mid closing credits, which was a stunner.

It will be hardest of all to say goodbye to Brian with FURIOUS 7 (2015), necessitated by Walker’s tragic death, but by all accounts it is handled beautifully.

FAST & FURIOUS 6 was directed by Justin Lin and filmed by Stephen Windon.

Parental Advisory: FAST & FURIOUS is rated PG-13 for extensive non-graphic (but lethal) cartoon violence, as well as some language and sexuality.

FAST & FURIOUS 6 is available on DVD, Blu-ray, or Amazon Instant Video.

The FAST & FURIOUS 6 trailer is at IMDb.

Previous reviews in this series: THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS (2001), 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS (2003), FAST & FURIOUS (2009) and FAST FIVE (2011). A related film, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT (2006), takes place after FAST & FURIOUS 6 and will be reviewed in the future along with FURIOUS 7.

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