“Fast & Furious 6” Delivers The Goods

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LOGO“Fast & Furious 6” roared into theaters nationwide during the Memorial Day weekend, and judging by the huge success enjoyed its predecessors enjoyed (The first five films earned $1.5 billion.), nothing can come close to slowing this franchise down. Frankly, loud cars, explosions, and less than mediocre acting don’t do much for me, but the appeal obviously is there for many. But this one surprised me.

If you remember or even care, at the end of installment five, fugitives Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) had just pulled off a heist that netted them and their team $100 million, but because they still are wanted by the law, they are unable to return home. Thus as the sixth film opens, we find Dom and his crew scattered all over the place.

Dom and his current girlfriend, Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky), reside in the Canary Islands along with Brian and his wife, Mia (Jordana Brewster), who has just given birth to their son. Keep in mind that Dom’s former girlfriend, Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), who supposedly died at the end of the “Fast & Furious 4.”

As for the other team members, Han (Sung Kang) and Gisele (Gal Gadot) are now a couple and living in Hong Kong, and Tej (Chris Bridges) is soaking up the sun on a beach in Costa Rica. In the meantime, Roman (Tyrese Gibson) has opted to fly around the world in an aircraft full of beautiful women.

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While all these criminals are enjoying the good life, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), a diplomatic security service agent, is hot on the trail of Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), a former member of the special air service who has recently sabotaged a Russian convoy. The word is Shaw and his gang are collecting the parts to build a device capable of wiping out the power in a huge area. And the biggest surprise is that Shaw’s chief assistant is Letty, Dom’s former girlfriend, who was thought to be dead.

Hobbs soon realizes that he is not capable of bringing Shaw down by himself, and so he pays a visit to Dom, and asks him to assemble his team and help bring Shaw to justice. At first Dom wants no part of the plan, but that changes when Hobbs shows him a picture proving Letty is alive. Hobbs also agrees to grant Dom and his entire crew full immunity if they can produce Shaw.

And the game is afoot!

Now when you analyze a film in which Johnson and Diesel are the two leads, it’s pointless to talk about the acting because not much of it goes on. But then if you look at the way these two guys are built, you realize that people don’t flock to their films for great performances. They want to see these two mountainous musclemen kick the living hell out bad guys, and this is exactly what they get.

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The same thing can be said for the plots in these movies. They don’t really matter because they’re pretty much all the same. The only aura of mystery is how the two hulks with find and destroy the villain and his minions.

What does take center stage in these films, however, is the action, and “Fast & Furious 6” delivers plenty of it from fights to car chases to pyrotechnics. In fact, you could say that the action is the real star of this movie, but I will admit that the filmmakers succeeded in adding a human element to this chapter by having Dom and his buddies accept their mission with their freedom at stake. And before all the action begins, we see the characters enjoying life in various parts of the globe. In the film’s production notes screenwriter Chris Morgan offered an interesting analysis into the human side of the franchise.

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“I love constructing intricate narratives and being able to find the places where the pieces fit. The fact that ‘Tokyo Drift’ doesn’t happen chronologically in the film order, but to be able to determine where it goes — and for it all to make sense — is a fun puzzle to put together. The last three films had a very purposeful thematic arc regarding the loss of love and the loss of home…and how far our team would go to get them back. In the fourth film, Dom lost the love of his life and the entire crew was forced to go on the run, abandoning everything they once knew. In the fifth film, our team hit a low point and really felt the absence of both, living as fugitives on the run…until the end when they learn that Letty might still be alive. Now, in the sixth film, we get to see the extent to which our heroes will go to get back everything they lost — specifically Letty — and the ability to return home as free men and women.”

Also in the production notes, Diesel concurs that this film made the most of a storyline.

“The most exciting part of it was that we were going to be able to treat this not only as an action film, but with as much story as we do. It’s gratifying to be able to look back and to see how every thing links up. When you see ‘Fast & Furious 6,’ you’ll want to go back and re-watch the previous films. When you can answer questions and shed light on scenes in previous movies, when you can promise something in the future…that’s cool film making. The best example is when a saga and its audience can play off of one another, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”

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Fans of the “Fast & Furious” series should not be disappointed in this sixth chapter. Both Diesel and Johnson are at the apex of their respective destructive modes enabling them to kick some serious ass throughout the film. The car races and chases are sufficiently frenetic, and the special effects literally light up the screen, a fact that I welcomed because so much of the picture is shot in subdued lighting. Nevertheless, the action in the final 30 minutes is spectacularly fast and furious.

I wasn’t really looking forward to this movie, but I really got sucked into it, and it gets a final surprising seven. Will it win any awards? No. Is the acting outstanding? No. Is the plot original? No. But does it deliver what action aficionados love? A resounding yes.

Of course the next question is whether or not there will be a seventh installment. What do you think? It’s already scheduled for release next July. Long live Toretto and Hobbs!

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