Dissecting Fast & Furious 6: Dumb Fun or Just Dumb

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The Fast & Furious franchise is back with its sixth entry, and whatever the series has done for you so far will most likely hold true for this one.

Here’s the story, not that it matters: You all remember Letty, right? We all thought she died back in Fast & Furious, but this is all a lie as she is now running with a different crew. That traitorous B! We should have known she would have come back somehow, though, because it is Michelle Rodriguez and her characters never seem to stay dead. I guess we will see in the Avatar sequel if her streak continues.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s character comes to our main team seeking help, with the promise that if they help him capture some ex military guy (I think? It doesn’t really matter, other than to give a possible “explanation” for how he knows how to drive a tank) they will be pardoned for past crimes. This is all well and good, but Dom is in for Letty.

Zac: Unfortunately for me the series has done nothing. I haven’t seen 2, 3, or 4, and I only regret not seeing Tokyo Drift, but the film doesn’t cater to non-fans in the slightest. This is not something I am holding against the film by any means; it’s the sixth entry, they shouldn’t pander, but what it does mean is that I just don’t get these films.

Lauren: I am actually on the opposite side of the spectrum. I’ve seen all of the films and before the fifth the series was on a steady decline for me. The stories were stupid and the cars and stunts were not enough to make up for this. Until now. With Fast Five, the series decided to move away from taking itself too seriously and just went out to have a good time, and the audience gets to along with it. Fast & Furious 6 is in the same vein as the previous entry, so if you enjoyed watching that one then 6 will be right up your alley.

From here forward this review/breakdown will dive into SPOILERS, so go check the film out and then come on back to join the conversation. Seriously, SPOILERS from here on out.

Zac: Doesn’t take itself too seriously? It takes itself way too seriously. The Rock is the only person that seems to know how bad a movie he is in and unfortunately he is mostly entirely wasted until the “longest runway ever” scene to end the film. The film is trying so hard to be this epic interweaving story among all these films, you can just feel the strain as every time the action stops the film grinds to halt to try and explain everything that is happening in these long winded exposition sequences. I could have taken a nap and missed nothing.

Lauren: Oh no, this is going to be like one of those tongue and cheek Twilight debates again, isn’t it? The only time I ever felt it was too serious was when Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez had their scenes together. And the lady filling in for the love of Dom’s life.  I would have loved to have gotten rid of that whole storyline, especially because they went with the whole loss of memory cheat to bring her back. Why was it so necessary to bring her back in the first place!?

Other than that I always felt like the film would go for the laugh rather than anything else. Or just throw something big in for the excitement of it all. Diesel flinging himself through the air in order to catch Rodriguez and cushion their landing with a car (yes, a car) is one of the dumbest things I have ever seen, but I still loved the majority of the stunts they served up.

Maybe you just didn’t have a good enough audience. Mine was eating it up, and it was pretty contagious.

Zac: Oh, my audience was eating it up, I just wasn’t. The humor in this film is mostly dead on arrival for me, save Han, and there seemed to be a countless number of “funny” scenes thrown in that were completely unnecessary. Every scene of exposition was tagged with a comedy bit and it all felt so forced.

As for the taking itself too seriously, I think it is an actor thing more than the director. I think Justin Lin knows exactly the type of film he is making and the filmmaking is really quite superb. It is the script and actors that are holding him back. Yes the action beats are ludicrous [Lauren interjection: Eh heh, Ludacris] at the end, but they are fairly well executed visually; besides half of them being in the dark to save money. The effects are seamless, even characters diving to catch characters in midair, I can’t wait to see what Lin does now that he is free of this franchise. In fact, I think they should give him the next Bond movie, I think he could do great things with the talent behind those pictures.

But I think my biggest problem with this film, and the others, has to be Vin Diesel. I can’t take this guy seriously in these films. He has one look and they try to give him all of these sagely lines that just make me laugh out loud and how stupid he sounds; then everyone follows his lead! Plus, knowing that he is like 5’ 9” in real life makes the action scenes extra absurd as they try to pawn him off as this beast of a man that can rival The Rock. The man also has zero charisma to be found up on the screen as Dom (he has great charisma in other roles) and I could just laugh at him walking around like a simpleton if I wasn’t kind to my audience. I could be almost just as mean to the rest of the cast in this film as well if I wanted to. The Rock, Luke Evans and Sung Kang are the only people I like here. Gina Carano is particularly wasted after Soderbergh showed how great she can be in Haywire; this is more a script issue than anything.

Lauren: It’s true. When she and Rodriguez got in a fight I thought Letty was going to get her brains spread against the wall, so when that fight went a different way I was definitely pulled out of it. Granted she did practically cheat to get the upper hand when straight fighting wouldn’t do it. And honestly I think you might be giving Carano too much credit. They used her for exactly the reasons why they cast her, to do some wrestling type crazy takedowns as the female versions of the muscular men of the film.

For me, Diesel never particularly seemed short; it’s just that The Rock is a hulk in any comparison. Besides, it’s not like they fought in this one, and when Diesel came up against that bulked up mass of a human being that was actually larger than The Rock he lost. Which is when the tag team came in. Knowing the fight they had in film 5 made this quite the cheer worthy moment in my theater.

Zac: Dude, Diesel flying headbutted that dude to death; the most ridiculous thing that happened in this movie.

Lauren: Agreed, other than the mid air catch, this was the worst beat of the film.

Zac: The last 45 minutes of the movie are absurd and have to be discussed, they ruined this film’s potential to be an alright movie with the insanity they try to pull over on the audience in the last act.

Lauren: Nope. It’s like you didn’t even know what movie you were going to see, granted you probably didn’t watch the trailer first. It was exactly what I expected it to be, especially after 5, and maybe had you seen 2-4 (which is what I am comparing the seriousness to, so you can’t really understand since you didn’t watch them) you would be grateful they went in this direction. This was exactly what I expected it to be: mindless entertainment. Not only that, but I probably found the last part one of the most entertaining, with the beginning dragging as they set up this new bad guy. We just got dropped into this scene of them trying to take him out, and suddenly they’re racing around London and Letty has amnesia and the bad guy might have feelings for her so there might be a love triangle but not really… Which is when I turned the brain off and just watched the fun happen.

Fast and Furious_6 picZac: I knew what I was getting into, but people praise it like they don’t. Just because a terrible movie looks pretty doesn’t necessarily mean good or worthwhile. I have seen a number of people line up to call this and Fast Five good movies, with no disclaimer as to it being just a good time. A good time I can buy, even if it isn’t for me, but the people that I see out there ripping every big tent pole apart with every nitpick they can find and then give this nonsense a pass is just appalling.

The end is for sure the most interesting and fun part to watch, it’s just that it makes no damn sense. (Sorry if I put on my nitpicker hat here.) At least you concede that the midair catch is ridiculous, but I couldn’t help but be shocked and sort of appalled at the senseless way they handled death in that tank sequence. Countless people are murdered and gruesomely destroyed in their cars and it was being pawned off as fun. Just because Michelle Rodriguez puts on a pouty face at the violence doesn’t count as sympathy. And sure, the gang is like, “get them away from the people,” but since when did these guys become superheroes? Because, that Superman jump grab sure seems like the film thinks they are.

Lauren: I think the senseless death in that moment was exactly what it was supposed to be. We weren’t supposed to be charmed by some bad guy because he has an accent, we have to remember that he is a horrible human being. The whole film is of his mission to basically get some part of a weapon that will kill a poo ton of people, so why would he care about running them over on the bridge? The point is to push Letty to switching teams. Granted, that doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t have decided to do so before now. It really takes this much for you to realize someone is pure evil?

This scene was nothing compared to that in Fast 5 when our heroes were destroying a city with a giant safe that could have easily killed hundreds, but I guess we just must have missed listening to the news that day… They’re not heroes by any means considering how much danger they’re putting everyone in by simply street racing, they’re just the lesser of two evils.

Zac: Plus, the offensive ignorance of physics throughout the film in this grounded reality couldn’t help but take me out of the picture. When the film decided that the climatic runway would go on as long as they possibly wanted I couldn’t help but laugh at all of the nonsense going on here. Shaw is ejected out of a car, through a windshield and flying at excessive speeds when his car was going a couple miles an hour and hit a wall. Vin Diesel can throw people fifteen feet into the air and fly long distances to crush mens skulls with his own.

Michelle Rodriguez stands a chance against Carano. Everyone is capable of making pinpoint jumps and reflexes, yet Gisele decides she has to jump to her death to save her man; even though they just decided their dream was to go to Tokyo and get away from all of this crazy stuff. In fact, everything about Gisele and Han feels cheap as they use the known character’s death (Han’s once the series catches up to Tokyo Drift in the credits sequence) to try and give the film some stakes. Killing off the girlfriend of the character you are about to kill off in your epilogue isn’t gutsy and kind of sexist assuming she can’t stand on her own in a potential sequel. In fact, it’s bad writing all around as Gisele would be a perfect character to give a more prominent role in the seventh film as she has some actual stakes to take down Statham for his part in it all.

I’m exhausted. Like I said, the action is well shot and choreographed (though that runway scene was tough to make sense of in pitch black), and I like Lin as a director, but I just can’t handle all the stupid flying around here.

Lauren: I would love to see lady vengeance at work in a seventh film, but they had to work her out because she wasn’t in Tokyo Drift. Simple as that, which is why I wish they had gone with their ending in the fifth film.  Then again, I was hoping the whole series would end there.  Oh well, they had to kill someone. I just would have gone with Ludacris… Or giant forehead over there. The point is they didn’t want to get rid of anyone they didn’t have to so they could keep the team together for years to follow, so maybe next time Joss Whedon can give the screenwriter some notes.

Zac: Maybe Gisele comes back from the dead this time! We didn’t see a body, she can be with Luke Evans and Gina Carano who all conveniently died off screen.

Lauren:  Yeah, that’s exactly what I was thinking for each of their deaths.  They will all be back and Gisele will have no memory and be on team bay guy!

Zac:  Oh, also, I am supposed to believe that the British Army will just roll over and let this guy go over one woman held hostage! WTF, I wouldn’t trust Vin Diesel’s Dom if he told me 2+2=4, let alone trust him with the national security of the country. And The Rock going along with it, come on, terrible. Almost just as bad is the shocking “twist” that Carano was working with Shaw all along. I didn’t see it coming, but that is because she didn’t seem a single bit nefarious in the first place. Sure that might just mean she was good at what she does, but they didn’t even give us any examples of what she was doing or why this double cross really mattered. If Shaw had a man on the inside, why not have her spread disinformation all over the place. Ahhh, this movie.

Lauren:  Well, she was just there to feed information to Shaw to keep him one step ahead.  Though I don’t know why she wouldn’t have said she was going to hunt down the tech guy instead of having the tech guy fend for himself in his call for help.

I definitely understand all of your critiques of this film, and as a movie it probably doesn’t deserve a great grade. But this movie isn’t going up against Oscar contenders, so who am I to knock it down when I had such a good time watching it? Just keep this in mind and take my grade with an oversized grain of salt.

Lauren’s Final Grade: B-     

Zac’s Final Grade: D+     

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