After the bombshell that was dropped at the conclusion of Fast Five — that Letty had somehow survived her supposedly fatal crash — we knew that a sixth movie was going to be released. With the release of Furious 6 — a fitting title, given that it’s not really about street racing — so it does. Fast Five made a lot of money, after all so we kind of had to get a sixth installment in the Fast and the Furious series, didn’t we?
As you might expect, the story focuses on Dom (Vin Diesel) and his crew of street racers trying to get Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) back into their extended “family.” The only problem is that she has amnesia and is working for a group of thieves led by Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), who are the bad guys. Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), from the last film, recruits Dom and his crew to take down Shaw, which he claims can’t be taken down with people trained to take down bad guys because … I’m sure he has his reasons. It’s a dumb excuse to get these people together. It’s a dumb movie, too, so I guess that’s fitting.
In case you forgot, Dom’s team consists of: Brian (Paul Walker), who was at one point a cop and then an FBI Agent; Mia (Jordana Brewster), who is Dom’s sister and Brian’s wife; Roman (Tyrese Gibson), who was Brian’s partner in 2 Fast 2 Furious; Tej (Chris Bridges), who was also in 2 Fast 2 Furious and I could have sworn said he can’t drive anymore but here he is; Han (Sung Kang), the one who will die when the series finally catches up to Tokyo Drift, but for now lives and is totally awesome; Gisele (Gal Gadot), who did stuff that nobody cares about in Fast & Furious and is now Han’s love interest; and Elena (Else Pataky), a cop from the last film who is now here for some reason.
Isn’t it fun how a film with six installments can have almost all of the significant characters team up? Well, it’s fun if these characters resonated with you or even mattered to you at the time, and for some reason you wanted them back. I had to look up who Tej was, and I re-watched the previous five films before seeing this one.
So, the plot is two-fold. First, the team needs to stop Shaw, whose crew basically acts as a parallel to Dom’s — which you’ll notice early on, only to then have it explained to you by Tyrese Gibson, because the filmmakers think you are stupid. Second, and in the process of doing the first, they’ll try to rescue Letty and reunite her with the team. I’ll spoil something here because I found it a gutsy decision: Letty’s amnesia does not disappear in this film. There’s no “Hey, I remember everything” scene, and I liked that.
This is basically just an excuse to have action scene after action scene. These are broken up almost exclusively with scenes of exposition you won’t care about explaining why the action scenes are necessary. Funnily enough, this leads to the exposition feeling unnecessary. Does anyone in the audience actually care about why we’re doing stuff beyond the basic “take down the bad guy” and “rescue Letty”? I know I don’t. It doesn’t matter; we’re here for the spectacle and the action.
As a result, about 1/3 of Furious 6 works wonderfully. The final third of the film has some of the best action you’ll see in a movie, even if it is stretches the credibility of what we’ll believe might be possible. Still, it’s exciting and if you don’t get too hung up on the details — the world’s longest runway gets involved at one point, for example, and if this bugs you (no runway is this long) then you won’t enjoy this film — you’re likely going to have a good time.
Some of the action scenes in the middle are fun, too; I just mention the final third because it’s relentless and serves as the highlight. Yes, `1/3 of a film can be a highlight. Shut up. There are only a few car chases and only one actual “race,” but then Fast Five was lacking in street races as well, so I suppose that’s just the direction the series is taking at this point. If the films can continue delivering thrills like this one does, I don’t really care. It’s evolved, and maybe it’s done so for the better.
Then again, there isn’t really an incredibly bad or good chapter in this franchise. Even at its worst — which I’ll still argue is Tokyo Drift — the series never really got worse than “mediocre.” And at its best — the first, fourth, or maybe this one — it’s just “pretty fun.” We’re looking at a series that continually skirts the line of “average movie.” They’re not dull enough to be watchable but not good enough to truly be worth recommending. I’ve enjoyed them all as mindless entertainment, I suppose. I mean, I didn’t have a problem re-watching them all in order to remember the characters and earlier plots. That has to count for something.
At this point, you’re kind of on-board or you’re not. If you liked the earlier films and want to see another chapter where earlier characters team up to take out a bad guy, then you’ll also enjoy this one. The final third alone is worth seeing if you like action, as it’s better than most of what you’ll be able to see as long as you can ignore the small impossibilities. Furious 6, like the other films in the series, isn’t great, but it’s fun and you’re likely to have a good time with it.