After the franchise was given a shot in the arm by moving away from the street racing plots of old to a more Oceans Eleven with cars vibe, along with the inclusion of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s considerable frame, in Part 5, this years 6th installment has a lot to live up to. Fast Five was a ridiculous amount of fun, and my cinematic surprise of 2011, so I’m happy to report that while it doesn’t have the same surprise factor, number six is just a brilliantly bonkers as it immediate forebear.
Franchise stalwarts, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Bryan O’Conner (Paul Walker) are now out of ‘the life,’ living free on the spoils from their Rio heist from the last film, but get dragged back in by Johnson’s supercop Hobbs who needs their team’s driving expertise to stop a villain who, through vehicular warfare, is stealing a variety of parts to make a super weapon. Also, complicating matters for Dom is the return of his former girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), thought dead come the end of Part Four, now very much alive and working for the bad guys.
That’s really all you need to know plot wise, as it’s mostly just an excuse to hang a load of increasingly crazy set pieces on. But nobody goes to see a Fast and Furious film for the plot or the acting anyway, which is lucky because both the story and the cast are serviceable at best; the cast simply fulfilling their roles as comic relief, token woman, tech-y guy amongst others. Vin Diesel in particular seems to get worse with every film, with his emotionless face and slow drawl which is slowly but surely becoming less and less decipherable. The only person in the film who seems like he cares about something other than the action sequences is The Rock. I’ve mentioned my love for him before and once again he nails it; effortless cool, genuine movie star charisma and an immensely likeable screen presence.
The action sequences are easily the most ambitious we’ve seen in this series so far. A chase around London is pleasingly frenetic; a fistfight on the Tube between Letty and newcomer Gina Carano (from last year’s Haywire) is a great knock down drag out type of fight; a scene on a bridge with a tank with ends in such a ridiculous fashion you can’t help but love it; and another on a runway. Each sequence just builds and builds and builds, and just when you think it can’t get any bigger, it normally does. None of them have any basis in reality or any recognition of the laws of physics, but when they’re this much fun, do you really care? In fact most of the film is like that. Questions arise all the time, like: Is this the world’s longest runway? Amnesia, really? How do they know where to drive around London if they’ve never been here before? Did Rita Ora really just say ‘It’s London, baby?’
But these questions don’t matter in the grand scheme of things because before long somebody is going to launch a car off a bridge to use as an anchor, or deliver a flying headbutt to a stupidly large henchman. Sometimes both. At the same time. This film only works for the audience if they’re on board with the stupidity of it all and if you are it’s exciting, it’s visceral, it’s fast (and furious; sorry) and most importantly it’s fun which is all I ask from this type of film. And happily, there are a few surprises to be had as well, with one that genuinely shocked me.
It’s not without its faults; the theme of family is rammed down your throat at every available opportunity making much of the film’s emotional spectrum akin to that of an episode of Sesame Street. There’s a subplot with Bryan going to prison that doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know and could be taken out completely. And the villain is disappointingly one note.
But these criticisms don’t ever detract from the sheer joy and spectacle splashed up on screen and the film, despite being just shy of 135 minutes, never outstays its welcome, mostly because something awesome is always around the corner. This film deserves to be seen on the biggest, loudest screen possible, and if you’re on board with the film make sure you stay for the mid credits scene which neatly whets the appetite for Fast and Furious 7. And when I say whets the appetite, I mean, OH MY GOODNESS I NEED TO SEE IT RIGHT NOW.
Ahem. Sorry, got carried away there.
By any normal criteria it’s not a good film, but it is an absolutely fantastic movie. If I was being properly critical it probably only deserves a 3 star rating, but I had such a good time watching it it’s getting…
Review by Jonathan Cardwell.
For the first time Jonathan has uploaded his review on to YouTube. Make sure you check it out!!!
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