Fast & Furious 6 (2013) ☆☆1/2(2.5/4) : Outrageous & Preposterous as usual

small_FF607At the certain point during one of the action sequences in “Fast & Furious 6”, the audiences around me burst into a big laugh because they could not simply believe what happened on the screen. When one character was hurled from a big tank running wild on the highway, the other character boldly jumped from his car being driven on the opposite lane, and, in a typical slow motion shot, we got an incredulous circus-like sight of being rescued in the air without any serious injuries. Their bodies promptly crashed together onto one of those unfortunate cars which happened to be there, but they were pretty all right on the whole.

This action sequence is quite outrageous and preposterous to say the least, but what do you expect from the action movie series whose specialty is providing fast and furious action sequences which blatantly defy physical plausibility second by second? Out of some reasonable concern, the movie reminds its audience that all of its stunt driving actions were made under a controlled environment by professionals during its production and they should not be imitated, but I seriously doubt who can be that stupid and reckless enough to imitate such unrealistic actions like the one I mentioned above.

While sticking to its formula matured through previous five films, “Fast & Furious 6” mixes several new things into its formula for being a little different. Again, the background is changed(this time, it is London – and then Spain), and new adversaries to be smashed are introduced along with the returning characters, and then we get what we want as promised; the series of well-made action sequences occasionally interrupted by the rudimentary character interactions to emphasize to us that our reckless driver characters are bonded together as a sort of alternative family.

FF604After their spectacular heist which happened fast and furiously in Rio de Janeiro in “Fast Five”(2011), Dominic Toretto(Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Conner(Paul Walker) and their friends/accomplices have been having a pretty good time with their money although they are officially a bunch of wanted criminals who would be arrested and incarcerated if they return to US. Toretto, O’Conner, and Toretto’ sister Mia(Jordana Brewster), who is now O’Conner’s wife, have been living in the Canary Islands, and we see Toretto and O’Conner driving their cars fast as usual to the local hospital where Mia is about to give a birth to O’Conner’s son. I think going to the hospital by one car seems more practical and perhaps safer on that winding mountain road, but I guess it must be quite boring for both of them to sit next to driver’s seat.

Toretto and O’Conner have no problem with their less exciting family life(well, these boys still have cars to drive and fix, don’t they?), but, as previously announced at the end of “Fast Five”, they are drawn to action again when federal agent Hobbs(Dwayne Johnson), who clashed with them and then eventually helped them in the previous film, informs that Letty Ortiz(Michelle Rodriguez), Toretto’s lover who was thought to be killed in “Fast & Furious”(2009), is very much alive and has been involved in the series of criminal activities around Europe.

With no hesitation at all, Toretto becomes determined to find her and face her while helping Hobbs(the condition: full immunity), so he and O’Connor quickly gather their crews played by the series regulars including Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, and Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges. They go to London, and they and Hobbs soon confront their common adversary Shaw(Luke Evans), a criminal mastermind who speaks with your typical evil British accent and also has the crew not that different from Toretto’s(“It’s like we’re hunting our evil twins”, one character muses).

FF602Letty has been working as one of Shaw’s key drivers, so Toretto eventually encounters her during one busy night car chase sequence unfolded all over the West End area of London. To his dismay, Letty does not recognize him at all because, surprise, she lost her memories due to what happened to her in “Fast & Furious”, but all he have to do is reawakening their emotional bond through their shared passion toward illegal car race. I cannot possibly imagine an illegal car race happening in the downtown area of London, but I and others did not came in the screening room for reality from the beginning.

The movie steadily increases the level of outrageousness over its paper-thin plot, and the director Justin Lin handles the action scenes with skill and energy. While the night car chase sequence mentioned above feels flat and distant due to the disorienting mix of choppy editing and shaky camera movement, other two major action sequences which appear later in the film are more exciting because we are always aware of the direction inside them even when things get more rushed and more surreal than before. During the busy climax sequence where the bad guys attempt to escape with their big cargo plane as being chased by our good guys, it is clear that the plane is being accelerated rapidly for take-off when the action begins, but the movie continues to drive the plane and the vehicles chasing after it along the runway for more than 10 minutes at least, and they have not even reached to its end yet when everything is over. As the other critics already noted, this runway certainly deserves to be remembered as one of the longest runways in the history of action flicks.

But you won’t probably mind about that and other implausible things in “Fast & Furious 6”. Because I was impressed by his debut film “Better Luck Tomorrow”(2002) several years ago, I wonder why Justin Lin has been stuck with no less than four Fast & Furious movies including this one, but he does his job well as a good action movie director as before, and the movie provides us exactly what it promises to us and then leaves us with another possible sequel to come(A brief scene before the end credit is another amusing moment besides the warning for the audience).

FF603The actors comfortably wears their respectively roles thanks to their long-time involvement with the series, and the movie puts some of them into physical action. Michelle Rodriguez has a ferocious fight scene with Gina Carano’s character at London Underground, and Tyrese Gibson and Sung Kang also engage in a tough fight with Joe Taslim, who previously went through a far more brutal moment in “Raid: Redemption”(2011). Having recently watched “Teddy Bear”(2012), a small but touching drama about a painfully shy bodybuilder, I must say it was amusing for me to watch its amiable lead actor Kim Kold appearing as one of Shaw’s henchmen who looks to be more than an ideal match for Dwayne Johnson.

Starting with “The Fast and The Furious”(2001) and then continuing with “2 Fast 2 Furious”(2003), “The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift”(2006), “Fast & Furious”, and “Fast Five”, the series has somehow maintained or improved its quality level fairly well, and I sort of come to admire this tenacious series despite my constant 2.5 or 2 star rating(I think I should have given “Fast Five” 3 stars instead of 2.5 stars because it is the best film of the series). Someday, I will review “Fast & Furious 10” – and maybe I will be more favorable to this series if it still drives as well as it should.


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