“The Fast and the Furious” series saw new life with “Fast 5,” which upped the bar on high speed car chases. “Fast and Furious 6” continues the trend, as it soaks the audience with adrenaline as action scene after action scene pulverizes the screen. But do not be fooled, this movie is not all about the action, it is also about family. And with that sentiment in mind, “Fast and Furious 6” can please the action-goer at the theater, but also leave behind a feeling of belonging and a sense that no individual is greater than the sum of their parts.
The film deftly begins with a beautifully shot car sequence between Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), as they speed along a road on the coast of Italy. They are in their new lives, in their new homes, but it still does not feel like home since, well, it is Italy, not America. Their lives may be nice, but they are not perfect. They have their family, but nothing can truly replace home.
This is where Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) comes in, whose introduction into the series in “Fast 5” was one of the biggest reasons for the film’s success, as Johnson brought an extra dimension to the series. And by dimension, I mean biceps. For this film though, Hobbs is not pitted against Vin Diesel and his crew, much to the dismay of fans, as the Hobbs vs Toretto fight sequences in “Fast 5” are relentlessly awesome (But do not worry, Hobbs and Toretto still find other muscle heads to fight and let’s be honest, having Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson on the same side is pretty spectacular).
Jumping back to the film, Hobbs uses the notion of “family” to bring in the former street racers, as he has discovered that Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), former lover of Toretto, is still alive. She was presumed dead in an earlier film. And it is this driving force of family that brings the group back together, as they hope to bring back a thought-to-be-believed missing member. Along with the fact of reuniting family, Hobbs also offers “home” to them. A possibility they all thought they lost. Bring all the pieces together, and you have a reason to help Hobbs catch a criminal named Shaw.
For all the rip-roaring action sequences, which are all fantastically captured with grace and delicacy, there is a heartbeat to the film. A real, human reason for the developing plot. Yes, for a majority of the film one must suspend belief as these people become live-action cartoon figures meant to please us with their ridiculous stunts, but they do so in a way that seems human. Without the driving purpose of family and the sense that this team needs everyone together to overcome the challenge, well, then there would not be much of a reason to watch. But we do watch, intently, as these people fight for each other without hesitation.
We as an audience can understand and relate to these people, as they care just as much about their family as we do about ours. It is not action, for action’s sake. It is action, for human’s sake, and there is something very honest about that. This movie, as well as “Fast 5,” does not try and make itself out to be something it is not: plausible. But with that suspended belief and the notion that these people truly care about each other, a movie that is essentially a cartoon, with stunts so ridiculous that there should be no way of survival, becomes, well, plausible. A movie that defies logic, becomes logical.
Take for example a scene at the end of the movie, where Toretto saves the life of Letty (oops, spoiler alert!), who is catapulted from a tank, by vaulting himself from his own car to catch her in mid-air hundreds of feet above the earth’s surface. An action that is completely and utterly preposterous is made real by the driving emotions behind the jump, inside Toretto’s heart. He knew that things would be alright, because he believes in family that strongly. And when you believe that strongly about something, you throw all the probabilities out the window, because the only thing that matters then is the person you are doing it for.
Along with the strong action sequences are the strong laughs this movies dishes out, one big forehead at a time. You need to breath from the action every once in a while and they fill that space with nicely timed jokes. Personally, Tej’s (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges) line: “We’re gonna need more alphabets,” takes the cake, but the running gag of Roman’s (Tyrese Gibson) forehead also brings good laughs.
All in all, “Fast and Furious 6” is a solid addition to the franchise, building off of the success of “Fast 5.” These movies have entered a new world, not only with the stunning action sequences, but with the affable cast and poignant story telling. It is the story line that drives the action, not the other way around. There are not meaningless action scenes in the film “because the action is awesome (*cough* Transformers 2 and 3 cough*).” Everything serves a purpose to move the film along. It is nice to see an action movie that cares about the characters and cares enough to develop some of them. Hopefully this series continues what they’re doing in the next installment (because, who are we kidding, we’re getting a 7th film). They clearly have a winning formula.