It’s impossible to watch Fast and Furious 6, now on Blu/DVD/Digital, without the tragedy of Paul Walker’s passing in mind. The experience of cinema is often enriched by the convergence of reality and drama. Such was the case of 'The Dark Knight' when seen through the lens of Heath Ledger’s performance. Here the spirit of Paul Walker shines through onto this cock-swaggering franchise, in particular this episode, highlighting the strange theme of family which unites all players at the end of this film.
Fast and Furious 6 (2013) dir. Justin Lin
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Chris Bridges, Michelle Rodriguez
By Alan Bacchus
The longevity of this series and the recent upswing in popularity into Memorial Day-worthy blockbuster entertainment is kinda staggering. We’re six pictures into this franchise and already we’ve seen its key cast members leave and return in various stages. It’s also managed to the launch the career of Justin Lin, helmer of episodes 5 and 6 who has now left the series as a sought-after franchise top-level director.
Admittedly this is the first film in the series I’ve seen since the first film, The Fast and the Furious, then mere a cop film set in the LA street racing mileu – a film probably pitched as Point Break for street racers.
Now, by the evidence of the engrossed implausibility of this film, much like the James Bond franchise, there appear to be an earned set of rules developed over the years. What Fast and Furious 6 turns out to be now is a crack spy team, part Mission Impossible, part Avengers, with the theme of Vin Diesel ‘crew’ as their own unorthodox family.
Presumably after the end of Fast 5, Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and his crew have retired from crime, living around the world basking in their wealth, and yet missing the thrill of the action and the comfort of the company of their crew. When DSS Agent Luke Hobbs propositions Toretto to come out of retirement to investigate the hijack of a Russian military transport truck, he is still hesitant. It’s the presence of old flame Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) which piques his interest and sends him back into action. His pals played by Chris Bridges, Sung Kang, Tyrese Gibson, and Walker himself (now a father and husband), are easily convinced too.
With the team assembled it's action time. The car chase action sequences which anchor the film over its two hour plus running time, are adequately choreographed and executed considering our expectations six films in. The first and best sequence has British baddie Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) driving a low riding, high speed dune buggy of sorts, so low and slim it acts like a ramp which can flip of cars from oncoming traffic. The result is a fantastic chase through London flipping cars left, right and centre.
The series removed from the LA scene, now globetrots through Brazil, Spain, Japan, UK and the United States.
The car, tattoo and muscle fetishes are thrown in our faces at almost every turn. The musculature of all the characters, especially Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel is actually uncomfortable to look at, but it speaks to the series riding dictum of engorged extremity.
The film ends with a ridiculously over the top finale invoking a Spruce Goose type plane, grappling hooks and lot of swinging and jumping through the air bending all laws of physics way out of shape.
In the end with Letty Ortiz reunited with the team and her old crew, the aforementioned theme of family emerges and the raison d’être for all the violent shenanigans going on. Before Paul Walker’s death this tied knot might have barely made an impact, now it’s becomes a poignant moment of closure of a decent man’s life and thus worthy of our attention.
Fast and the Furious 6 is available on Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital by Universal Home Entertainment.