It’s now nearly impossible to watch Fast & Furious 6, and not reflect on the passing of star Paul Walker. Surely this big fun summer movie will now be tinged with a melancholy that it will be the last time Walker got to play Brian O’Conner in total. But removed from the context of grief, Furious 6 (as it’s titled on screen) is a lot of fun, for the most part. Vin Diesel, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Michelle Rodriguez co-star in this tale of underground racers turned crime-fighters. My review of Fast and Furious 6 follows after the jump.
The film opens with Brian racing, this time to the birth of his first child with wife Mia (Jordana Brewster, who’s almost totally sidelined in this chapter, though that may be for the best). Meanwhile, Dominic Torreto (Diesel) is confronted by Hobbs (Johnson), and is told that he might want to help Hobbs out as he’s found Letty (Rodriguez) alive and working for Shaw (Luke Evans), who’s a great driver and an even better terrorist. Dom is willing to bring the team back together to help fight crime, but only if they all get pardons.
And so Roman (Tyrese Gibson) Han (Sung Kang), Gisele (Gal Gadot), and Tej (Ludacris) are brought in to help Hobbs and his new assistant Riley (Gina Carano) hunt down Shaw’s gang. Shaw is with his crew in London, and Shaw and his gang prove to be Dom and crew’s equal, though Letty grows more conflicted about her role even though she has no memory of her time with Torreto. A cat and mouse game ensues as Shaw is after a MacGuffin of inestimable value, and he’s equipped with the best toys (like a tank).
For the majority of its running time, Fast and Furious 6 capitalizes on the chemistry and playful banter of the cast, and some whip crack stunt chase sequences that deliver the wows. This would be one of the best summer action movies ever, and the equal of Fast Five (which is pretty much perfect for what it is) if there wasn’t one scene that sort of sinks the movie. During the big tank chase there’s a stunt which breaks the rule of physics and believability to such an extent, I found it impossible to get back into the movie. Yes, the film has featured absurd things before, but such a CGI-obvious, completely unrealistic moment just went a little too far, and then the ending has some great characters killed off (necessarily, if you know the chronology of the new series), which is a bummer in a franchise that works best when it’s not taking itself too seriously.
That said, the big ensemble crew of the Fast films play very well together, and this film brings back even more previous players into the mix. For a sixth film there’s a lot of history and mythology at play here, and that makes it even more fun for fans of the franchise. Sung Kang and Gal Gadot make for one of the best action couples in cinema, and we’re curious to see if Gadot can handle more in the near future (she’s signed on to play Wonder Woman). Dwayne Johnson is a great addition to the gang, and though his role isn’t as fresh as it was the last time, he gets a number of scenes to play on his character’s seriousness. But Diesel – who constantly talks about family — and Walker anchor the film, and though the supporting characters get to shine brighter, they give the film its heart. All in all, the film works for the most part.
That said, it’s a little hard to watch right now.
Universal’s Blu-ray comes with a DVD and Digital copy. The film is presented in the theatrical and extended cut (it runs 44 seconds longer) in widescreen (2.35:1) and in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. The film comes with a first look at Fast and Furious 7 (2 min.) which shows a character’s funeral, which is unfortunate. The film comes with a commentary by Justin Lin, and he’s a smart and able speaker about the film. There are three very short deleted scenes (2 min.), and “Take Control” (19 min.) which looks to have been a PIP feature that I guess they decided to offer as a standalone feature, where the cast and Lin talk about specific scenes in the film. There’s a four part making of (28 min.) that mostly focuses on the cast, “Planes, Tanks, and Automobiles” is another four parter that focuses on the vehicles (25 min.), while “It’s All About the Cars” is a three parter that’s obviously car-centric (15 min.). Rounding out the supplements is the featurette “Hand to Hand Fury” (10 min.), which focuses on the fight scenes.