With the only big full on action movie to have made me venture into the cinema so far this year being A Good Day To Die Hard, I headed into Fast & Furious 6 in the hope and expectation that, at the very least, it would be better than that.
Having followed the Fast & Furious movies since their inception they have been a mixed bag to say the least. Starting out as pretty much muscle headed car movies from number four (aka Fast & Furious) onwards they have developed into the more full on action movie genre with international locations and heist based storylines that balance straight up fast cars and action with enough knowing irony to make them genuinely entertaining, while providing the only effective vehicle for Vin Diesel since Pitch Black.
Fast & Furious 6 starts off where Fast 5 lets off with Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto and his gang enjoying their new-found wealth and freedom (as long as they don’t try and go back to the USA) in their own unique ways, while Dwayne Johnson’s Luke Hobbs is back on duty investigating improbable car based heists in Russia.
This sets up our maguffin plot which draws the old team back together to thwart the plans of a rogue former British special forces type (Luke Evans as Owen Shaw) and his gang who are pretty much a direct mirror of Dom and co.
Along with this plot, which leads us through increasingly implausible but excellently delivered set pieces (you’ll believe Vin Diesel can fly and is actually a T-1000), we have the ever-present Fast & Furious family sub-plot, here increased by the fact that Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner is now a father and that Dom’s ex-girlfriend (who died in Fast & Furious) has somehow returned as part of Shaw’s gang.
It’s this family subplot that, while as corny as they come, really gives the film a heart as we root for Dom and his team and genuinely feel an attachment to them and shows how it is superior to many other blockbusters and actioners as I, at least, genuinely did feel something for these characters when they live, die or are effected by the life of (good guy) crime they have all chosen and join with them in rooting for the rest of the gang as they battle against the odds to, hopefully, prevail.
Following a film like A Good Day To Die Hard, where the nearest to emotion anyone shows is Bruce Willis telling us the guy he’s with is his son, or the likes of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, where the humans are an expandable side-show, it is genuinely refreshing to actually root for the heroes in a movie.
Of course the ‘heart’ is only part of any movie and, while brains may not be high on the agenda of Fast & Furious 6, muscle sure is, and it has it in spades, almost as much as The Rock (sorry, Dwayne Johnson).
Things start off with a relatively straightforward car chase sequence through London that defies sense and geography in the most enjoyable of ways and sets up the fact that these two gangs of glorified carjackers are a match for each other.
Things then move to Spain (why not? As long as it’s not the USA it fits the plot as well as anywhere) where we get what feels like the movie’s climax as the two gangs destroy a motorway trying to claim possession of the movie’s physical maguffin, a part of a missile that I’m sure could destroy the world in the wrong hands – or something like that, like all the best macguffins it simply doesn’t matter.
Following this, any remaining credulity is thrown out of the window as we head to what must be the worlds longest airstrip, as Dom’s team chase down Shaw’s team (now boarding a cargo plane) and do their utmost to stop the plane taking off using cars, harpoons with tow cables and good old-fashioned hand to hand fighting, which is clearly designed to give The Rock the chance to show off his pro-wrestling chops – a Doomsday Device like attack from Diesel and The Rock on one of the henchman being the highlight of this.
Leaving things open for a sequel in genuinely shocking style, that has me wanting to see what’s next right now, Fast & Furious 6 continues the series recent run of knowing pure entertainment that, while not quite as all out fun as Fast 5 is very close – now if other action filmmakers would just learn some lessons from this we might get another heyday of the genre as existed in the mid to late 1980s.