Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fast & Furious 6


   After the game changing Fast Five, everyone had sky high expectations for Fast & Furious Six. There was a whole new audience wanting to see it too. I'm very happy to say it didn't disappoint. It's an ever evolving movie franchise that has finally thrown itself in a single direction. People still complain that "this franchise used to be about car racing." I can understand how a die-hard car racing enthusiast might be upset. However, the rest of us are happy that these movies have been refocused. Instead of the kitschy and dated neon cars and candy colored racing streaks, we now have an action movie juggernaut full of car chases and explosions.

  What better movies to showcase intense car chases than movies built on car racing? No matter what happens in these movies cars are still a very central and integral part of them. Our protagonists, are all racers. Regardless of what their function is. Fighter, hacker, gadget man, et cetera. They're all racers. So inevitably car stunts and chases will ensue. This time agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) recruits fugitive Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew to catch a dangerous team of thieves and killers who are just as proficient behind the wheel as they are. It's a bit thin to be honest, I mean, it hearkens back to 2 Fast 2 Furious. In that one, cops recruited ex-agent Bryan O'Connor and his old friend to infiltrate the criminal underworld and catch a fearsome drug lord. Why was O'Connor recruited? Because he's amazing in a car race. Same here in a way. I still have issues believing any actual police force of some kind would do this.

  Which leads me to my next point. These movies have grown out of one kind of immaturity, and landed firmly in another. Only I'm not sure it's a bad thing this time. The movie fully embraces it's preposterous story throwing insane and often impossible stunts at us at speeds nobody wants to calculate. It has the spirit of a bygone era of action movies like Commando or Rambo: First Blood Pt.II. Nobody cares why Schwarzenegger never has to reload his gun at the end. We're too busy rooting for him as he rescues his daughter. Furious 6 has that kind of attitude. Nobody cares how you can get launched off of a movie vehicle, fly through the air, catch another person flying through the air, land on a moving car, PERFECTLY and walk away with hardly a scratch. That's not a spoiler folks. Even the trailers gave you that one.

  My point is, there are movies that are so much fun, and are so well made, that we can turn a blind eye to how preposterous they really are because... well, we're having too much fun to care. Furious 6 is one of those movies. The stunts are often literally impossible, or physically improbable, yet it's all in good fun so to speak. The movie embraces it's preposterous nature. Criminals don't team up like The Avengers and have vehicular warfare with another criminal team on open highways, generating enough carnage and destruction to make Michael Bay blush. Yet in the movies, they totally do. It's part of the fun if you ask me. Each action scene in these movies from Fast & Furious (#4) onward seem to eclipse the last in scale and intensity. Not to mention each movie does this to the previous one. Furious 6's action scenes are among the most over-the-top and insane in the franchise. It takes the collected energy of franchise highlights such as 2 Fast and Fast Five, and merges them together with some actual emotional heft.

  Through good movies and bad, these characters have been a team. A family unit. That dynamic is paying off in ways other movies couldn't even hope to dream of. Their chemistry shines through some occasional shoddy acting or stiffness. It's infectious. These characters have incredible chemistry and an irreplaceable dynamic. Just as the (original) crew of the Enterprise in the Star Trek movies could carry an entire movie on the strength of their dynamic alone (See: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home), Dominic Toretto's crew can too. Not that they have to rely solely on their chemistry to carry this movie. It's a thrill a minute roller coaster that doesn't stop for things like "physics". Pfft. What's that anymore? These guys pulled that bank job in Rio. They laugh in the face of physics. I... don't even think that's an exaggeration. I'm pretty sure that amidst the burning rubber, gunfire, explosions, and general chaos that logic itself is pretty much passed up as well as physics. Not that anyone could hold it against the movie! The movie does such a good job of endearing these characters and their motivation to us, that we'd sooner cheer for them than point out why such and such car stunt is literally impossible.

  This is the strength of a good and well made action movie. The ability to let the whole shine through it's preposterous bits. Something that movies like... Transporter 2, Gamer, M:I:2 and others never could do. Those movies are hollow and they are incapable of producing the kind of applause I heard in the theater at the end of Furious 6. To boot, Furious 6 isn't just good enough that we accept it's preposterous bits, it's good enough that we too, embrace them. It's all in good fun, and it's really good fun indeed. I don't know yet if I like this one better than Fast Five, but it's every bit as good. Pound for pound it's just awesome. They're back! They're as awesome as ever too. Sign me up for the next one. My tires are ready.

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