Fast Six is the last installment in the series to be directed by Justin Lin, the savior of the franchise. He somehow managed to take rather discontinuous movies about street racing and connect them to a somewhat logical coherent story about family, thus creating a franchise that excels in mixing over-the-top action with a great deal of self-referentiality and the right amount of sincerity. This movie finally tied together all those loose story threads dangling around from Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious (that’s the 4th one) and Fast Five, revealing that Tokyo Drift plays after Furious Six and turning Han’s death scene into a teaser/cliffhanger for Furious 7.
We also have the resurrection of Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), the logistics of which are not quite that plausible; however, the strengths of this movie outweigh stuff like that for me. Let’s not forget that it brought us the first MCU-like post-credit scene with the (unfortunately very brief) surprise return of Eva Mendes and that the reunion of Family thus became a much more prominent theme for the series, making Paul Walker’s farewell way more emotional and effective. As a catalyzer to fuel the story of this movie, it definitely suffices.
The movie starts off with the birth of Brian and Mia’s (Jordana Brewster) child, to which Brian arrives kinda late because of his apparently more important drag race with Dom (Vin Diesel). We get a glimpse of the other characters: Roman (Tyrese) tries to impress women by showing off with his money, Tej (Ludacris) manipulates ATMs in a true modern Robin Hood manner, Gisele (Gal Gadot) and Han (Sung Kang) hang out together. Then Hobbs (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) crashes the idyllic party at Dom’s domicile and wants his and his crew’s help to stop criminals led by Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) that are well-versed with cars and other high-tech stuff. In return, he informs Dom about Letty’s mysterious resurfacing. Of course, Dom calls together the crew and they meet in London to do the first mission (of many, probably) after “one last job”. But as they openly address logical flaws like that and because the team dynamic makes up for such an entertaining watch, I don’t care that this doesn’t make sense. The same holds true for all the laws of physics the stunts tend to defy. Haven’t you seen Fast Five? They steal a freaking vault by towing it with their cars. Did you think they make a step back towards more realism? Gimme a break. I can understand everyone who isn’t digging the over-the-topness of the action but that’s the logical continuation and they shouldn’t be surprised about even more insane action sequences.
Anyway, in the mission HQ, there is some fun banter between the characters. I absolutely appreciate what they did to Roman Pearce, who has always had a big mouth, but this additional layer of being kind of a loser (relatively speaking) while not corroborating his place on the team triggers many genuine laughs (and I’m not just speaking chuckles). On their first field mission, they realize that Owen Shaw’s team, with their “modern carfare”, is not to be underestimated. They up their game and their search for Letty leads them directly to Shaw, for whom Letty is working. The movie portrays her internal uncertainty about her true self quite well as she starts to question Shaw’s MO.
The London car chase sequence is pretty exciting even though the following hand-to-hand fight and chase sequence is more entertaining. The best stuff all waits in the last third: There is the amazing because totally nuts chase on the bridge as well as the subsequent climax on the landing strip. Both are great gripping scenes with fresh ideas and well-made stunts (with a relatively constrained use of CGI, only once or twice was it a little off). The final moment on the bridge was that jaw-droppingly unexpected that I just want to stand up and clap. The action never gets boring nor does it really repeat itself and the end even managed to be quite emotional for me, as I have grown to like The Family very much.
Luke Evans actually managed to be a good villain as his ruthless analytic manner raises the stakes. The Rock continues to be a very welcome addition to the cast as he delivers his one-liners well and his strength pays off in action scenes. Michelle Rodriguez has to do a bit more acting than usual and even though she won’t win any awards for that, she pulls it off. I like the chemistry between Gal Gadot and Sung Kan. As already mentioned, I liked Tyrese in every scene and particularly his banter with Ludacris, who does a very solid job again. Gina Carano was a good addition with her MMA background and her fights with Michelle Rodriguez added another note to the action. I didn’t remember Brian blaming himself that much for what happened to Letty in part 4 but Paul Walker has the most acting chops out of the whole cast and serves as the emotional anchor for the viewer. After his death, watching him in these movies has a bit of an aftertaste but his down-to-earthness and his resolve to safely return to his wife and child (which obviously played an even bigger role in his farewell movie Furious 7).
The soundtrack, as usual, comprises the obligatory Don Omar Latino track as well as some cool HipHop music (with ‘We Own It’, which was used for the opening credits/’previously on’ montage, being the breakout hit). The abundance of female bottoms, which are always displayed very appealingly on the screen, is nothing I’ll complain about. What I will complain about, however, are some overly serious and melodramatic lines about the family, likely to be uttered by Vin Diesel, such as:
Hobbs: The moment we let him walk out that door with that chip, words like “amnesty” and “pardon” walk out with him.
Dominic Toretto: Those words went out the day we were born.
Tej: Plan B? We need a plan C, D, E. We need more alphabets!
[I can’t believe I laughed about this:]
Roman: You got special plans? Big day? You’re going to invite us all out? Better make sure you get her a big rock, man, ’cause she doesn’t look like she’ll be that easily impressed. And if it’s not a big rock, you better be big somewhere else. You know what I’m talking about.
Roman: That ain’t a plane. That’s a planet.
Tej: You’re a millionaire and still asking for money?
Roman: That’s how you stay a millionaire.
As a fan of the franchise, you won’t get disappointed but then, you will have seen the movie by now. I like the series (the intense love started with Fast Five) for creating inventive and impressive over-the-top action scenes, which I enjoy a great deal. Meanwhile, the great team dynamic results in a well-dosed mixture of a predominantly funny tone with sincere emotional moments. Given what these guys can do, the film is just shy of superhero movies; in fact, you could draw some comparisons to The Avengers concerning the team structure and the tonality of the movie.
(Personally, I think it’s a five but it’s certainly not everyone’s taste, which is what I kinda expect a 5-star movie to be)
Images (incl. title image): © by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, taken from IMDb