Fast, Furious, Family — FAST AND FURIOUS 6 Review

Family. It’s not just who you’re related to, it’s who you choose to associate with, who has your back when you’re in trouble. And at its heart (chases, fights, and explosions aside) the Fast and Furious franchise is essentially about family and the lengths to which people will go to keep their family together.

From the beginning, Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) philosophy about family has been one of the prevalent themes of the series. It just so happens that his family is a criminal one. His leave-no-man-behind, take-care-of-your-own code is what seduced Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) in the first place (well, that and Toretto’s sister, Mia). It’s that same sense of big, dumb heart that keeps the audience coming back and rooting for the Toretto team.

The Fast and Furious series has only improved with time, and truly hit its stride with Fast Five, which brought together the seemingly disparate elements and characters of the first four movies. The ensemble team in 5 had an undeniable chemistry, and the addition of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to the cast as Hobbs was a stroke of genius. Consequently, expectations have been high for 6 — and the movie does not disappoint.

Fast & Furious 6 picks up where 5 leaves off, with Dom, Brian, Mia (Jordana Brewster), and Elena (Elsa Pataky) in no-extradition exile, welcoming a new member into the Toretto family — Brain and Mia’s son. On paper, things seem ideal — but the long and the short of it is, the “family” is scattered, and a beautiful beach-side retreat abroad just isn’t “home.” When Agent Hobbs shows up on Dom’s doorstep with the news that Dom’s old flame Letty (Michelle Rodruigez) is alive (she “died” in the 4th film, Fast and Furious) and working with a team of dangerous international criminals, Dom doesn’t hesitate when asked to help find her. Of course, Brian volunteers to accompany him, with Mia’s support — as she says, they’re better together (insert misty eyes here at this moment of ultimate bro-love).

The team from Fast Five is reassembled, sans Mia and Elena (who stayed to take care of the baby) and Rico and Tego, who are presumably still off losing millions at the casinos. Hobbs has a new sidekick, Riley, played by former MMA badass Gina Carano. Their target is Owen Shaw, a criminal mastermind whose precision team (including Letty) Hobbs has been chasing across several countries. For Toretto’s team, this operation is about two things — finding a lost member of their family (Letty), and going home. Their price for catching Shaw for Hobbs is full pardons for everyone.

Naturally, mayhem ensues. Fast & Furious 6 has gone above and beyond in terms of action sequences and crazy stunts (but never fear, we do get one old-school , scantily-clad-women street gathering for good measure). As the series has evolved, it’s become less about street racing and pimped out cars, and more about large-scale shenanigans. Fast Five gave us a massive safe careening around Rio; 6 pumps it up with cars designed to flip other cars, a tank chase on a freeway, and climaxes with a showdown between multiple vehicles and a massive cargo plane. There are plenty of vehicular rollovers, explosions, and of course, hand-to hand ass kicking. Most of the stunts are real, not CGI, and performed by the actual cast, which adds an air of authenticity that helps ground the film, especially considering how ridiculously impossible most of the action is (in real life, these guys would all be dead about 20 times over from everything that happens to them, and a few scenes are laughably physically impossible). Rodriguez and Carano truly kick some ass when Letty and Riley engage in hand-to-hand combat, and special props for comic relief to Sun Kang and Tyrese Gibson, when Han and Roman take on (and are clearly outmatched by) one of Shaw’s fighters — Johannes Taslim from The Raid.

The ensemble cast is obviously having a great time, and the team dynamic and comical repartee are lots of fun. Roman and Tej (Ludacris) in particular have a great comic chemistry. The entire Toretto team really embodies the “family” dynamic in their interactions together, and even Hobbs fits in as one of the gang. Of course, this very feeling is what Shaw tries to exploit in dealing with Toretto and the crew. Fast and Furious 6 is as much a battle of philosophies as it is of physical fighting — family vs. precision, love and loyalty vs. money and power.

All in all, Fast and Furious 6 manages to capitalize on the momentum created by Fast Five, and creates a fitting end to director Justin Lin’s helming the series. Obviously, you’re not going in to Fast and Furious 6 expecting high art, but if you can sit back and enjoy it for what it is — a fun, campy, crazy ride with lots of heart and things that go boom — you won’t be disappointed. It’s everything a summer popcorn flick should be.

Previous post Doctor Who Review: Journey to the Center of the TARDIS
Next post Alamo Drafthouse Celebrates 30 Years of RETURN OF THE JEDI