Fast & Furious 6 Review: An Incredibly Dumb Action Behemoth

[rating: 3] At one critical point in Fast & Furious 6, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, caught in a kind of…

T.J. Barnard



[rating: 3]

At one critical point in Fast & Furious 6, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, caught in a kind of bizarro world walk and talk (think The West Wing) and discussing the movie’s criminal syndicate, tells MMA fighter Gina Carano: “I want to come down on them like the walls of Jericho.” If the idea of that moment occurring prompts a slight grin to form on your face, chances are that the sixth entry in this newly revitalised car crash franchise will bring you a relative amount of joy. Just make sure you leave your IQ at the door.

Fast & Furious 6 is, without a doubt, one of the dumbest movies I’ve ever seen. The set-pieces, straight from a comic book, are absurd in every conceivable way: loud, rendered with (sometimes incomprehensible) CGI, they crash all over the screen in explosions of sparks and scratched metallic paint-jobs. The jokes, too broad to be funny, fall flat at every turn. The characters: razor thin, interchangeable, lacking discernible personalities. The plot? Well, there isn’t one. Not really. Still, if you can allow yourself the chance to channel your inner hack for the sum of two hours, it’s quite possible that you won’t actually end up regretting spending money on this thing.

2011’s Fast Five (like this entry, also directed by Justin Lin) was the movie that brought what was considered then to be a franchise in peril back to form. The stroke of relative genius? Swapping out the series’ annoyingly faux-macho and obnoxious fixations on car culture, and bringing in elements of the heist genre to make things more interesting. It actually worked (and casting The Rock in a supporting role certainly helped matters). Fast & Furious 6 wants to be Fast Five (wisely), but it also wants to be even louder, three times more explosive and a hundred times more implausible – if you’ve seen Fast Five, you’ll agree that appears to be quite the feat.

The story here hinges on DSS Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), who reunites with Dominic Torreto (Vin Diesel), the closest thing the series has to a protagonist, to tell him that his former girlfriend, believed to be dead, is still alive. She’s played, once again, by Michelle Rodriguez, who makes her first appearance in a Fast & Furious movie since 2009. All this somehow means that the world’s best heist crew are brought back together to help catch a former British Special Forces Office called Shaw (Luke Evans), who’s plotting something sinister.

None of this really matters, of course, because we’re here for the set-pieces, which I can safely say (for the most part) deliver on their promise to thrill the hell out of you. There’s no acting in the movie, of course, and to say that Vin Diesel reads his lines with the tone and enthusiasm of Fantastic Four’s The Thing would be an insult to a great comic book character. But all the “right” ingredients are here in droves: high-octane street chases taking place across the globe (half of the movie is set in London), shaky-cam inspired fisticuffs, and an opportunity to shut down your brain for a while, sit back and enjoy the fireworks. And there are lots and lots of fireworks.

After all, the world that the characters inhabit here looks much like our own, though there’s one major difference: there are no rules in the Fast & Furious version. Every scenario drop kicks plausibility square in the jaw and refuses to take responsibility for its actions. In one scene, Hobbs, a DSS agent, points his gun at the head of an allied NATO sergeant and threatens to kill him for an incredibly inane reason. There are no repercussions for these moments when they do take place, though, which means you’re forced to go along with the movie’s twisted sense of reality or… well, you could walk out, I guess. But you won’t.

Which is to say, it’s at these points that it’s easier to just let go. There’s no use trying to “think logically” about about a movie in which a battered car, attached to a tank by an industrial harpoon gun and swinging between two motorway lanes, is used as an anchor. Same goes for the many scenes which appear to exist, primarily, to make the British look like a bunch of dithering idiots. I can think of no good reason for the part where Hobbs and a fellow heister force a rude Englishman to strip down to his underpants for their own pleasure.

Fast & Furious 6 ultimately works, though, because it embraces its own stupidly with a bone-headed grin and (what I hope is) a self-aware shrug of the shoulders. The dialogue is unintentionally hilarious throughout, and the annoying faux-sentimentality between the group is cringeworthy in places, but, hey, there’s a 20-minute finale that has our heroes literally fighting an airplane using nothing but their vehicles and a harpoon gun, so who cares, right?

With the inevitable sixth sequel looming on the horizon, complete with its own “added element of surprise” (check out the movie’s post-credits sequence), Fast & Furious has officially established itself as an action behemoth capable of actually delivering what it promises. Though it’s not as slick and thrilling as Fast Five, this installment proves itself to be a worthy addition to the series. I’d like to say “quit while you’re ahead,” but I’m already kind of looking forward to seeing what they conjure up for the next ridiculous set-piece. Has anyone seen my brain?

What do you make of this movie? Let us know in the comments section below.