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Review: Fast and the Furious 6

Fast and Furious 6

We all got a weak spot.

Another review that should have been up weeks ago, and another attempt at keeping it short.

The Fast and the Furious is a f**king ridiculous franchise.

How it got to this point, or why it even exists is beyond me. Nevertheless, here it stands in all its muscle-brained glory. As a fan of the first film, Fast Six is almost unrecognisable from its origins. What started off as a small film about rival LA gangs that drove cars, rode bikes and threatened to beat each other up every now and then, has evolved into the kind of brainless, tentpole action film that brings in the big bucks.

Fast and the Furious 5 redeemed the series from the disappointment of Fast and Furious with an interesting deviation on its well-trodden formula. It dropped the street racing, undercover police shenanigans and revenge plots; transforming into a heist movie with some demented action. The introduction of Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs added an intensity and energy that the franchise lacked. Taking it to Rio gave it a change of surroundings. It teetered on being dumb (if it wasn’t already), but Fast Five was recklessly fun and enjoyable.

And so with Fast Six we’ve hit something of barrier. Five was such a success, unexpectedly so, that it would be hard to top it without careering headfirst into stupidity.

And that’s effectively what Fast Six does.

To write a synopsis of this film, i’d have to explain what came before, so intricate and weirdly complex is the franchise’s backstory. It extends to this film, retroactively inserting Luke Evan’s villain into Fast and the Furious and hoping you’ll remember what happened in that film.

It goes for ridiculousness and stupidity and delivers. That isn’t something to look down upon; Fast Six isn’t a bad film. Not quite. Travelling around the world, from Russia to London then Spain, it’s far more ambitious than you would think. Its established a certain type of action and expectations to go with it – go big or go home. But it still holds in its motorized heart the characters from the first film. It becomes bigger and more ’emotional’ but you sense the cast and crew care more for the characters than the audience would.

In taking that road, it veers towards becoming a parody of itself. There’s a lot of talk about ‘family’, but it doesn’t ring true when surrounded by copious amounts of vehicular carnage. These characters have long stopped being real, if they ever were in the first place. The amount of importance attached to some characters, whose names I couldn’t tell you, is something of a bugbear. Five previous films, with a huge cast that needs to be serviced and each with a moment in the spotlight. It’s too big, too awkward and problematic. The only kind of ‘family’ that would have these adventures would be seen in a fantasy cartoon/TV show from 60s. It’s become completely divorced from reality and its hard to take what the characters are saying without a dollop of cheese.

Of course if you were only ever looking for fun then Fast Six delivers. Technically its the biggest, most spectacular entry in the franchise, but on the odd occasion looks like some scenes were rushed/re-shot in post. Dwayne Johnson’s beard at one point changes from shot-to-shot (shaved – full on – back to shaved). The opening scene doesn’t look like its set in Russia but on a bridge in London. In a way it’s made up for by Vin Diesel’s Dominic Torretto taking someone out with a flying headbutt. And that’s before he drives through the nose of an exploding plane.

Its still fun but the visual/action excess is making this series top-heavy. With the end credits coda anticipating the next film, this ‘franchise’ won’t have time to cool down. It might be necessary as it’s starting to run out of gas (sorry).

6/10

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Review: Fast and the Furious – Rio Heist

Fast 5

We find them; we take them as a team and we bring them back. And above all else, we never ever let them get into cars.

It’s stunning to see the Fast and the Furious franchise reach its fifth instalment. Who would have thought that in 2001 that The Fast and the Furious would have gone on to have another four instalments?

As a franchise it delivers a specific kind of spectacle that’s undemanding and occasionally underwhelms. The fifth entry it goes some way to getting back to the original’s spirit.

After Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto is liberated from a prison transport, we find our protagonists on the run in Brazil with the tempting setup of one last job on the table so they can disappear forever and stop running from the law. Up against a Brazilian drug lord and being chased by US Federals, Toretto and his gang orchestrate an audacious attempt; to steal $100 million dollars.

As the series has progressed there it’s established a cartoonish vibe with some ridiculous stunts. Rio Heist brings it back a semblance of normalcy even if it treads a fine line between reality and complete disbelief.

It helps that most of the original cast are back along with a few stragglers from the second and third. There’s an easy rapport that makes the constant proclamations about family ring true.

Hobbs played by Dwayne Johnson is probably the best thing in the film bar the car chases. Constantly sweating, he’s a no-nonsense Federal agent. He even looks like Vin Diesel’s evil twin in a bad soap opera, and when they get to fight it’s everything that Clash of the Titans should have been.

What lets down Rio Heist is a thinly sketched villain in Joaquim de Almeida’s crime boss and an action in third act that’s wholly illogical and laughable.

Rio Heist is good, it’s not clever but it’s fun and undemanding and its main remit is to devise ways in which it can fling cars at one another but the franchise is never going to reach the heights of generally being excellent. It’s a B-film, a diversion and a fun one at that.

7/10

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