Dir: Justin Lin, 2013
Special Agent Hobbs tracks Dominic Toretto to his secluded luxury home in an effort to enlist Dom in catching criminal mastermind Owen Shaw, securing his assistance by showing proof that Dom’s believed-dead girlfriend Letty is alive and well. In order to reunite with Letty, Dom must bring the old team back together to apprehend Shaw and obtain pardons for their past crimes.
It’s safe to say that no-one comes to a franchise like Fast & Furious for character studies or sharp dialogue. That being said, it’s still disappointing when any film has a complete and utter lack of both. Fast Five’s amusing blockbuster action was also topped off by a lovable, kick-ass antagonist in Dwayne Johnson’s slightly-conflicted supercop. While Fast & Furious 6 has a tremendously nefarious villain in Luke Evans’ Owen Shaw, warmly reviving that age-old English baddie stereotype, there is no conflict to be seen throughout the film. The characters are split straight down the middle – the evil being very, very evil and the good being painstakingly good. That’s all well and fine as far as action movie conventions go if it didn’t make the protagonists so relentlessly boring. Evans clearly relishes his limited yet maniacal turn as Shaw and holds by far the strongest role in the film. A scene in which Shaw, armed with a tank, steamrolls innocent civilians spotlights his character’s pure savagery, thus reinforcing the support of the protagonists and providing one of the franchise’s best and most ludicrous moments yet. But when Shaw isn’t around to chew the scenery and drown puppies, any encouragement the audience should be giving the team of way-too-many heroes fizzles, especially when Diesel and company start droning on about “family”.
Lin handles the plot in an overly-eccentric manner, trying to convince audiences that the more the characters rant in automobile vernacular, the more intellectual the film is. Whenever Shaw’s wicked plan is discussed in all its effluent complexity, bells ring of Team America’s “9/11 times a thousand” gag. There are several unnecessary distractions to divvy screen time between the surplus cast and uses of popular MacGuffins including amnesia, bullet diagnostics and astoundingly-lengthy airport runways. Some are accepted as foregone conclusions of popcorn cinema but most exist for no other reason than to add minutes to the clock.
There are many moments where the film’s clichés are laughably atrocious and just as many when they are downright mortifying. Lin’s vision of London resembles a Grand Theft Auto translation of England’s capital that becomes more of a caricature as the film lingers there. Lin’s depiction of an exotic world of street racing and its cries of “London, baby!” will either frustrate or tickle audiences, possibly both. On the other side of the coin, the action scenes are bloated, the characters bothersome and the deliberate comedy is as callow as it gets. It’s hard to determine whether fourth-time-around writer Chris Morgan’s creativity has been sucked dry or if Fast & Furious 6 represents a franchise that has ran its course. Either way, it doesn’t look like this family will be going anywhere soon, with a July 2014 release set for FF8.
Fast Five upgraded a series that was dead in the water to an action-heist franchise. Fast & Furious 6 sees further evolvement as we now head toward Expendables territory. Lin’s last outing perched in the director’s chair is sure to make trunk-loads of money but fails to give as many reasons to return as its predecessor did.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆