The Fast and The Furious movies fascinate me.
Not so much the movies themselves, necessarily, but how passionate people are about them. I watched the original film back whenever it came out, what, 15 years ago? And I’ve gotta tell you: I found it pretty hopelessly boring, so much so that I had zero interest in checking out any of the sequels. Of course, at the time, I also wasn’t anticipating the franchise going stronger than ever in 2017, with its eighth film having just recently released to a theater near you.
In the space of two days, without seeking anything out, I saw a review saying The Fate of The Furious was a glorious film; I saw another saying it was the worst, a franchise killer. Someone argued that no, Fast & Furious 6 was easily the worst film of the bunch and Fast Five was unequivocally the best. Two people passionately defended Tokyo Drift as the shining star of the series. Loads of other fans seem to detest it. And then I saw two or three people on Twitter whole-heartedly defending the entire series against anybody who tried to say it was crap.
I’ve seen this type of defense multiple times on Twitter over the past few years. Specifically, I’ve heard people celebrating both the multi-ethnic cast and the fact that the action has gotten progressively sillier and sillier. Quite naturally, my interest rose from “Christ, no” to “Okay, sure, I’ll try it” as a result. But I really didn’t want to watch the franchise from the beginning because, like, ugh. So in the past couple of months, Mek and I started slowly working our way through the movies beginning with Fast & Furious (the fourth one). If you’re screaming at me for skipping Tokyo Drift, well, sorry, but I already knew all the important plot elements, and I couldn’t work up the interest in watching a film about that white Southern kid from The X-Files movie, now grown up and presumably a better driver than everyone in Japan–especially when I knew nothing good was gonna happen to the only character I actually was interested in.
My take thus far: Fast & Furious was enjoyable enough, despite them temporarily axing a character I didn’t want them to axe. I found Fast Five pretty forgettable, despite the introduction of The Rock. And then we watched Fast & Furious 6.
This one, well. This one was ridiculous enough to merit a (relatively) short review.
There will be SPOILERS for this film and all prior films in the franchise.
Terrible DSS Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) can’t catch Big Bad Shaw (Luke Evans) on his own, so he ropes Dom (Vin Diesel) and his
FAMILY squad of elite crimefighters merry band of retired criminals to help. They agree to do so because Previously Assumed Dead Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is apparently alive after all and, quite naturally, working for the bad guys.
1. Fast and Furious 6 has easily been the most ludicrous of the series thus far, which is probably why it’s my favorite, despite the fact that they kill off both Wonder Woman and Han, my favorite goddamn character. (I know, he really died three movies ago, but now, like, he’s super dead because they’ve caught up with the timeline–with, presumably, a helpful bit of retconning, since I’m relatively sure Jason Statham’s British ass wasn’t in Tokyo Drift.)
I have a few things to say about these deaths.
1A. Yeah, totally called Gisele biting it. This is unfortunate, but as it did free her up to be Wonder Woman, I guess I can’t complain too much. Plus, I like that she at least goes like a total badass, not only sacrificing herself to save Han but also somehow shooting the bad guy dead even as she spectacularly falls to her doom. I’d also like to point out that, IMO, Giselle could totally have survived that. You laugh, but I’m absolutely seriously; if Tyrese could’ve survived that insane car crash early in the movie literally without a scratch or even the vaguest of limps, then Giselle could totally be alive somehow.
1B. Likewise, based on the ending of this movie, Han could totally have survived that explosion if he secretly crawled out the window and then fell down a manhole or something while Jason Statham was busy walking away like an evil badass. (I presume Tokyo Drift provides a different angle that would make this impossible, but I reject any testimony from that movie because I haven’t seen it, and also because seriously, Statham isn’t in that film, right? If you’re already retconning, I get to retcon too.)
I bring this up because the screenwriter for these movies recently gave an interview where he said he wouldn’t rule out Han reappearing in some form in future films. The majority of sites I’ve read are assuming that this means we’ll get a Han flashback, and many seem adamant that he shouldn’t come back to life For Real, partially because Letty already spun that particular plot twist in this movie, and partially because it would bust the emotional impact of Furious 7.
And, look. Maybe I’ll feel differently after having actually seen Furious 7, but my initial instinct? Fuck that noise. This is a deeply, whole-heartedly unrealistic action series; I’d argue that the damn Marvel movies are, despite their big green guys and magic hammers, consistently far more grounded action films than these flicks. This franchise wants nothing to with realism. This franchise is primarily about one thing: joyously breaking the laws of physics with cars. Bringing Han back to life totally isn’t going to take away from that, especially when you’re not even ruling out the idea of sending the franchise to SPACE. (Which, obviously, needs to happen. That doesn’t even need to be said, right?)
2. Speaking of joyously breaking the laws of physics:
This moment, right here, when Dom saves Letty? This is the film’s most holy shit! ludicrous moment ever. I laughed out loud for like a solid minute. It’s kind of the best.
3. Of course, the whole premise of this film is pretty ludicrous. Like, I’d get it if Terrible Agent Hobbs was at least recruiting these guys to go undercover or something, you know, like criminals might realistically do. Instead, Hobbs basically treats them like cops; early in the movie, he even sends them to capture the bad guys before they can steal something, like Dom’s Merry Band of Criminals have somehow become a division of SWAT that just happens to have cooler cars or something. It makes absolutely no sense.
This, by the way, is only one of the reasons I keep referring to Hobbs as Terrible Agent Hobbs. In the last film, he straight-up murdered a dude; in this film, he throws a guy around so much that he gives the police interrogation room a new sunroof. Asshole. Murder and police brutality–somehow–aside, that shit costs money, you know? He also puts a gun to some British cop’s head because the dude had the audacity to make sense, AND he has no idea that his partner is secretly evil. Normally, I’d let that kind of shit go, but after all his other flaws as a Diplomatic Secret Service agent, I’m not particularly inclined to be generous right now.
Samoan Thor is basically the best nickname ever, but I’m not entirely sure that Terrible Agent Hobbs deserves the honor.
4. About that twist that Riley (Gina Carano) has been secretly evil ALL ALONG?
It’s not that I predicted it from the very first second or anything. It’s just that I didn’t care in any way, shape, or form. The Big Reveal happened, and I was like . . . yeah, okay. Whatever.
5. On the plus side, my favorite fight scenes in the whole movie were the ones between Gina Carano and Michelle Rodriguez.
The subway fight scene was especially badass: fast, heavy-hitting, and extremely physical. Both ladies were all-in, which was a lot of fun to watch, especially as they’re juxtaposed with our dude heroes totally getting their asses handed to them.
Other bonuses about this movie?
5A. Letty coming back to life in the first place.
She died as an inciting plot point in Fast & Furious, and that always disappointed me, despite the fact that I already knew she’d Get Better in a couple of movies. Cause I like Letty. Also, Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel have fantastic chemistry–easily the best chemistry of anyone in these movies. Her return, though anticipated, was welcome.
5B. Elsa Pataky didn’t have to die just so Michelle Rodriguez could come back.
I can’t pretend I ever much cared about Elena, but I find that particular discardable lady trope annoying. Plus, seriously, we already killed off Han and Gisele. I think that’s quite enough, don’t you?
5C. Tyrese didn’t annoy me nearly as much in this movie as he did in Fast Five!
Roman is still easily my least favorite character, but if he had died in the fiery crash that totally should have killed him near the beginning of this movie? I mean, I wouldn’t have wept, no, but I also probably wouldn’t have busted out the kazoos and cheered, which absolutely would have been my reaction if he’d died in the prior film. So, like. That’s progress, right? (Honestly, I’m not sure I can explain why I disliked him so much, other than that he was a supposed comic relief who I didn’t find remotely funny. His presence is a pretty big reason why Fast Five didn’t do much for me, despite the fact that unlike its predecessor and successor, it doesn’t actually kill anybody that I like.)
6. Finally, Pre-Gaston Luke Evans as the Big Bad is . . . fine.
There’s nothing terribly exciting about Shaw one way or the other, which, honestly, is pretty par for the course for many of Luke Evans’s roles up to Beauty and the Beast. (I’ve gotta be honest here: I’m super curious about where his career will go next. I’m hoping he gets another win, instead of being the “basically okay guy in otherwise shitty movies,” like Immortals or The Raven.) Anyway, we all know Shaw: he’s that guy who’s always a thousand moves ahead, up to and including the time he secretly gets captured ON PURPOSE.
Once again, YAWN. Do I need to bring back Christopher Walken, people? I’m pretty sure this was a tired trope even in 2013.
At least Shaw never stops his general villainy to play a symbolic game of chess, I suppose. There are some good things still left in this world. It’s important to remember that during these troubled times.
Roman: “You don’t want to lease this model; you want to buy.”
Han: “Can you please stop talking?”
Roman: “No, no, you’re in love! Look at you!”
Han: “Just stop.”
Roman: “You got special plans? Big day? You’re going to invite us all out? Better make sure you get her a big rock, man, ’cause she doesn’t look like she’ll be that easily impressed. And if it’s not a big rock, you better be big somewhere else. You know what I’m talking about.”
Han: “That’s why all your girlfriends wear so much bling, huh?”
Letty: “Nobody makes me do anything I don’t want to.”
Riley: “Let’s go pick him up.”
Hobbs: “Woman, you don’t just pick up Owen Shaw like he’s groceries.”
High octane silliness.
Family is what matters, okay? FAMILY FAMILY FAMILY.