Friday, 19 July 2013

Film Review #51

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Director: Justin Lin Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Luke Evans, Chris Bridges, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Jordana Brewster, Gina Carano, Elsa Pataky, John Ortiz

Certificate: 12A Running Time: 130 Minutes

Tagline: "All roads lead to this"

Who knew when Dominic Toretto first started throwing his weight around outside his sandwich shop all those years ago that he, and the series which gave him his name, would still be going strong by the sixth instalment? If it wasn't for the short-but-intriguing post-credits scene in the fifth film, this latest outing is one that wouldn't even make sense either. When we left our favourite 'team' they had just pulled off an enormous (and destructive) heist that left them all fabulously wealthy and we rejoin them a short while later enjoying the luxurious lifestyles they can now afford. Then of course, soon after Dom (Diesel) and Brian (Walker) quite literally race to the hospital where Mia (Brewster) is in the process of giving birth, Agent Hobbs (Johnson) turns up to ruin their fun with news of a crack (snigger) team of drivers who are targeting military convoys across Europe.

Of course, Dom and his retired team would be foolish to risk their lives of luxury without a damn good reason and they get two: firstly, full amnesty for all their past crimes, meaning they can finally return to their homes in the US; secondly, Dominic's supposedly long-dead girlfriend, Letty (Rodriguez), is not only alive and apparently well, but working with the aforementioned crew which is headed by former British Special Forces soldier, Owen Shaw (Evans). Intel suggests their next target will be in London so Hobbs, his new partner Riley (former MMA fighter, Carano), and a newly motivated Dom, Brian, and the rest of their team (minus Leo and Santos who are apparently pissing their money away in casinos) head across the pond.

As existing fans of the series will know, what this boils down to is plenty of banter, a comparable amount of scowling, a few girls, some crazy cars, and lots of high-octane action which takes place initially in good old London Tahn but also in Spain. Aside from Hobbs' new partner, Riley, who kicks arse and says little, most new characters of note are those that comprise Shaw's crew who are just as ruthless as those previously faced by Dom and the boys, but far more professional. The first cars of theirs that we see, for example, are some insane purpose-built F1-style 'flip cars' which can drive under oncoming vehicles, flinging them about all over the place - something they do with aplomb during a chaotic sequence through the streets of London.

Regardless of exactly what form the many action set-pieces take though, most moviegoers will know what to expect here, and they will neither be remotely disappointed, nor surprised too often. The production team have continued in the direction taken with the previous film but there are still lots of desirable cars and even a few races as well, and the characters remain as likeable as ever. The cast is gradually getting more and more bloated though, which means less screen-time for some of them, and it also means Luke Evans doesn't have too many opportunities to make an impact as the chief antagonist, but he still comes off as fairly charismatic, not to mention formidable, and it could never be anything but great having the staggeringly gorgeous Michelle Rodriguez back in the mix, surplus of characters or not!

So, it's fair to say that this sixth helping of Fast & Furious action is sufficiently entertaining that the existing fans will lap it up enthusiastically while the plan to open it up to a broader audience also seems to be working well. It's very probably the silliest instalment yet with some rather implausible action sequences (including one along the longest runway in the history of the universe) but these scenes are punctuated by some satisfying character progression and nods to other films in the series (both past and future, chronologically speaking). The strangely-chosen tagline suggests this film is where the story ends and represents the culmination of all the characters' respective journeys but this is of course nonsense - the seventh film is already underway, as was obvious from the open ending to this film, and the franchise continues to earn increasingly huge amounts of money so an eighth film is likely as well, but if they continue to be as much fun as this one, who are we to complain?

RKS Score: 8/10