FAST & FURIOUS 6 Review

by     Posted 1 year, 150 days ago

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Fast & Furious 6 is a machine running close to peak performance.  The Fast & Furious franchise has been stripped down and rebuilt through six iterations.  It’s gone from racing to revenge to a heist and now it’s forced to find its own identity.    After finding a good group of characters and upping the stakes in the action scenes, there’s finally a level of confidence instead of simply watching fast cars drive around.  The new movie struts into the room and proudly proclaims, “If we’re going to be goofy and loud, we’re going to be the goofiest, loudest movie we can be!”  It’s almost admirable in its own twisted way.  After four films, Justin Lin‘s direction has finally matched the ambition of his set pieces, and aside from indulging in the “family is everything” treacle, Fast & Furious 6 is easily the best film in the franchise yet.

After stealing a vault full of money in Fast Five, the gang is resting easy in non-extradition countries.  They’re called out of early retirement when Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and his partner Riley (Gina Carano) need help to bring down Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), a bad guy (I really don’t know if he’s a terrorist, a mercenary, or what) who is using his own team of car thieves to steal parts for a highly-dangerous and highly-lucrative WMD.  Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) agrees to help when he discovers Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who supposedly died in the fourth movie, is alive and working with Shaw.  Brian (Paul Walker), Ramon (Tyrese Gibson) Tej (Ludacris), Han (Sung Kang), and Gisele (Gal Gadot) all agree to pitch in for that “family” crap Dom is always spouting and to get full pardons.

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With the penny-ante stakes and most of its dramatic pretensions stripped away, Fast & Furious 6 has a freedom its predecessors lacked.  It happily dispenses with the laws of physics as long as it can get a cheer out of the audience, and with the way Lin paces his action scenes, the thrills don’t feel cheap.  It wears away at your defenses by having the enjoyable dynamic between the supporting characters carry the movie through its weaker moment like a sleepwalking Vin Diesel trying to win back Michelle Rodriguez whose performance consists of looking conflicted and looking confused.  The movies are starting to work because they’ve expanded their scope.  There are more characters, so we don’t always have to focus on the dull Dom and Brian.  The film’s two street races are dwarfed by what Tej appropriately calls “vehicular warfare”.

Fast & Furious 6 succeeds because the machine is running at near-optimum efficiency: most of the characters are likable, the jokes are funny, the set pieces are mostly well-structured (the big finale takes place at night, and Lin has trouble switching between the five or six different things that are happening at once), it has the illusion of an emotional heart, and mostly importantly, it pulls the audience into a big, dumb hug.

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I’ve never been a believer in “turn your brain off” cinema.  What makes Fast & Furious 6 acceptable is that it knows you have a functional brain and it doesn’t despise you for having it.  The movie, for the most part, plays into the comedy of the overblown action.  Lin has no problem with these characters performing superhuman feats.  He knows that he can have a plane travel along an impossibly long runway because we’re going along for the ride.  We’ve arrived at a mutual understanding, and the movie saves its aggression for the set pieces.

Going back to Lin’s first Fast & Furious movie, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, his talent for directing action has grown with each new installment.  Tokyo Drift quickly devolves into a tedious bore of endless racing with the big climax being two cars driving down an empty mountain.  Fast Five should have had an amazing fistfight between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson, but it was nothing more than a series of punches and someone getting thrown through a wall.  But with his latest outing, Lin has finally delivered.  A fight against a rampaging tank is non-stop joy that ends with a flourishing finish, and a throw down between Letty and Riley will create a lot of new Gina Carano fans (now go watch Haywire!).

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There are some trespasses that even the more good-natured aspects of the movie can’t save.  The pervasive sexism continues onward, although the movie tries to do gender-math by saying “Well, we can have men treat most of the women like things as long as two tough chicks duke it out.”  Furthermore, Letty’s motives are vague at best, a particular reveal is cool until you realize it makes no sense, and other assorted problems litter the picture.  It’s just tougher to see them through the explosions.

As a brief aside, I know I’ll be asked, “Why does Fast & Furious 6 get a pass on being dumb and Star Trek Into Darkness doesn’t?”  It’s because Fast & Furious 6 has no delusions about what it is.  Mocking the shortcomings of one’s own script can be dangerous, but Fast & Furious 6 feels like it’s just having fun rather than throwing up a defense mechanism.  Lin also knows how to keep the story breezy while Abrams gets bogged down in a convoluted conspiracy plot.  Star Trek should definitely take itself seriously, but because it’s determined to steal from a better movie, it’s unaware of its inanity.  Star Trek Into Darkness is the kid who tries to cheat off someone else’s test and still gets the answers wrong.  Fast & Furious 6 is the kid who happily draws a kitty in the margins.  It’s not the right answer, but at least it’s honest and endearing.

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This is a series that has evolved in an unlikely fashion.  As Shaw tells Dom at one point, “You’ve come a long way since boosting DVD players.”  Over the distance of its journey, the Fast & Furious franchise crossed the line from “stupid” to “silly”.  There’s some self-awareness, but only to the point where the movie is in on the joke rather than stressing to tell one.  There’s a charming certainty that comes from finally recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of a Fast & Furious movie.  It’s been a long road, but Fast & Furious 6 gleefully brings the series to an exciting destination.

Rating: B

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  • ScaredForMovies

    Classic Goldberg. You sly dog.

  • http://thenonessentials.blogspot.com/ Sean Chandler

    He can’t even review Fast 6 without taking the opportunity to write an entire paragraph crapping on Star Trek again. Unbelievable.

    • Ilkka

      It’s called making comparisons to other movies. It’s something I expect film critics to do.

      • http://thenonessentials.blogspot.com/ Sean Chandler

        In most contexts I would agree that comparisons are a good thing. In this case, the person in question has on at least three different occasions in a single week found opportunities to defend his review of Star Trek. I’m not sure we need him to spend a paragraph telling us Star Trek Into Darkness and Fast & Furious 6 are different. That feels much more like that’s for him than for the sake of his review.

      • Liderc

        Exactly. If he believed in his STID review, he wouldn’t have to keep repeating himself to prove it. The film was good, it’s still at 86% on RT, while this shit will have a 12 and Iron man 3 got a 77%.

      • LOLATABRAMS

        Into Retardation is a sexist, disrespectful piece of shite from the worst hack fraud (outside Nolan) ever to disgrace cinema. F-CK YOU FOR SUPPORTING IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • cineast4

        Into Darkness is sexist? And what exactly do you call the Fast & Furious series, a feminist liberation front?

        Obviously replying to your comment is ridiculous but it seems to have two likes on it, which only confirms the basic idea, i had of the collective intellect of the people who follow this series…

      • Lolatfoolishness

        So making an actress strip down when it’s entirely unmotivated by character or plot isn’t sexist? Thanks for the update! Idiot. Poor Gene, Abrams pissing on his grave.

      • Mike Bond

        Well, at least you’re not overreacting or anything…

      • chandler Bing

        FF6 has 77%, 95% of audience liked it. And TDKR has 87% as well.

      • Mike Bond

        You mean, actual movie-going audiences tend to be more forgiving than film critics?? Shocking!

    • PANTS

      He was just responding to the rampant criticism in the comments section of every article he writes. You guys all read the reviews to gauge his opinion, yet you trash him every single time his evaluation differs from yours. His job title is film CRITIC. Goldberg can’t win, but at least he stands up for himself using logic and explanation instead of becoming embroiled in a flame war. Lighten up guys; it’s a movie site where we can all have our own opinions. No reason to fly off the handle.

      • http://thenonessentials.blogspot.com/ Sean Chandler

        My problem with Goldberg is that he’s consistently demonstrated that he doesn’t like the types of films which this site dedicates large amounts of time covering. He writes them bad reviews, and then in the weeks following the film’s release he finds every opportunity he can to criticize the film again. It’s as if he’s trying to make doubly sure we know he disagrees with most of us.

        I honestly do not understand why he chooses to write for a website where he will consistently cover (for months or years), watch and review films we can easily predict he won’t like.

        All of writing has a snarky and condescending tone where he might as well say, “If you like this you are stupid.” In a podcast he openly admitted that he was hired because of his ability to write snarky.

        I would LOVE to see a podcast where Goldberg as the “critic” and Frosty as the fan boy discussed their differing opinions.

      • chandler Bing

        I dont think thats true. The dude is clearly a star trek fan, and its understandable to hate on a film which takes a shit on probably one of his favourite films. And critics arent exactly subtle on their thoughts about a film. Have you read Roger Ebert’s review for North? Its epic. And he brought it up countless times. The guy even wrote a book called Movies i hate. And Goldberg does give valid points as to why he hated it.

      • http://thenonessentials.blogspot.com/ Sean Chandler

        1) In his review he said that he didn’t become a fan until after Star Trek (2009). I was going to Star Trek conventions over 20 years ago. I’m not sure the guy who became a fan because of the 2009 film has earned the right to call out, “the filmmakers’ apathy and ignorance regarding Star Trek.”

        2) North has an 11% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Star Trek Into Darkness has an 87%. They have almost exact opposite tomato ratings.

        Put those 2 thoughts together and you have a recent fan of Star Trek speaking as if an authority on the subject while expressing a minority opinion (amongst critics and viewers) And he does so without any humility. If you don’t like the movie, fine. Don’t act like you’re the defender of Star Trek from ignorant filmmakers.

        3) He does a few valid points. He also made some ridiculous nitpicks. The problem is that not one episodes of Star Trek: TOS or any of the movies stand up to his level of nitpicking. I know because I’ve read The Nitpicker’s Guide for Classic Trekkers.

      • Rallax

        If he gave every movie the site has covered a good review, then you would think he is a plant or that the studio bought the review.

        He can’t win either way.

      • http://thenonessentials.blogspot.com/ Sean Chandler

        No. Frosty gives almost every movie a positive review, and I think Frosty just loves movies. I wishy they had frosty write the actual reviews and join the podcast.

        Goldberg can’t win because he’s writing for a blog which covers blockbusters and he doesn’t like blockbusters. Worse he does so with a snarky condescending tone.

  • Chris Meier

    Mate, the kitty comment is the best thing I’ve read all week.

  • Werefon

    So, idiot strikes again. Fast 6 is fun but the Star Trek into Darkness is better! Hey Goldberg, do your penis grow for an inch every time you trashing good movies.

  • spongefist

    Great review, only one issue, recommending Haywire – which was incredibly shit.

    • Saltonstall

      I don’t know. Haywire’s pretty decent for a really spare actioner, and Soderbergh makes it more interesting than it would be in the hands of a lesser filmmaker.

    • Liderc

      Agreed. Haywire was the worst fucking shit I’ve ever seen. How could Soderberg make such a shitastic film.

      • LOL@Liderc

        Scared of a lady who can kick your ass huh? LOL!

    • Ilkka

      Recommending Haywire – meh. Recommending Haywire for Gina Carano – hell yes!

  • TheDudeAbides

    The only reason Goldberg stays in business is because
    1) bashing movies is %100000 easier than saying something good about it
    2) a million children come and cry about his reviews and keep feeding him more and more publicity

  • Christian Grey

    Both, Fast and Furious 6 and Star Trek into Darkness are predictable as shit.

    But, when it comes to entertainment…

    Fast 6 Fucks Star Treks Nerdy ass with the speed of Light :)

    ( Benedict Cumberbatch and Gina Carano are the only reason i even went to see both these movies and Haywire has a better story twist than these two movies :) )

  • Lance

    I haven’t seen Fast and Furious 6, and I thought Matt had some valid points about Into Darkness. But from time to time, I do kind of wonder if Matt is evolving in the direction of a critic like Ignatiy Vishnevetsky. Critics like Ignatiy really prefer “independent” and foreign movies to mainstream blockbusters, but every once in a while they’ll realize there’s no point in critiquing something that’s as dumb as a Michael Bay movie, so they’ll wind up giving a thumbs up to a Transformers flick even when they thumbs down everything Christopher Nolan makes, just so they can try to appear less predictable to the masses.

    Whether such critics have superior taste is a matter for debate, but what is not debatable is that these critics are pretty much useless for assisting the mainstream moviegoing audience decide what to watch. The days a critic could authoritatively declare what is good and what is not on behalf of society are long past.

  • iconoclastimatic

    No, there reason FF6 gets a pass and STID doesn’t is because Goldberg got a sneak preview of the former.

    • chandler Bing

      No its not. The kitty analogy is maybe one of the truest words ever spoken by Goldberg

      • http://thenonessentials.blogspot.com/ Sean Chandler

        The kitty analogy may be good, but the cheater analogy isn’t. Prior to this film, we had seen two Khan stories in 45 years. The last one was 30 years ago. And they told an entirely new Khan story which fit the new universe. His entire analogy is based around two scenes.

  • Slim Pickins

    The kitty analogy only stands up if you believe that the first kid got the answers wrong. Personally I loved Star Trek, do I care if some of it’s themes were borrowed from other great movies? Not really! I was under the impression that most people go to the movies to be entertained, if you can honestly say that Trek didn’t have you plastered to your seat the entire movie than you should probably check your pulse.

    That being said, I have no doubt I will also LOVE FF6 as this series continues to get bigger and more outrageous with every sequel. Call me old fashion but if I can pay $12 and be thoroughly entertained for 2 hours I’m a happy camper.

  • http://tarek-to-verso.over-blog.com/‎ tarek

    Come on Matt, your brain is truly affected by the Bay virus. you gave Pain and Gain a B, and now you gave F&F6 a B. Will you give to transformers 4 and Expendables 3 a B also ?

    sorry to tell you this but when I see Vin jumping from a car going 100 miles/h, I fart. As soon as he will be in the air, the other car he is trying to reach out will be a hundred meters away.

    suspension of disbelief ? No. this is called suspension of brain.

  • cruzzercruz

    Star Trek was a laughable mess, when I was expecting to see a thrilling action movie with a breezy if thin plot. I was disappointed. Fast 6 is a ridiculous delight, when I was expecting to see an aggressively awful shitfest. I was pleasantly satisfied.

    The movies are not the same thing, because each has a different context within both the maintstream media and their own respective cultural followings. But if you really want to break it down, Star Trek is a bad movie pretending to be good, with a bunch of smug fucks patting themselves on the back for making it. Fast 6 is a bad movie hoping you like bad movies, with a bunch of people wiping the sweat off their brows because you do.

  • Ridge

    The best part of this movie: Jason Statham cameo as Ian Shaw

    -Ian Shaw: Dominic Toretto….. you don’t know me…..but you will….

    • Slim Pickins

      Nicely done Ridge…. well played.

      • Ridge

        thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/alex.hajna Alex Hajna

    Man, any chance you get to call Into Darkness dumb, huh Matt…

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