Cars. Fucking cars. Big cars. Smooth cars. American cars. Vin Diesel in cars. The Rock in bigger cars. Fast cars. Fastest cars. English cars. Crashing cars. Smashing cars. A fucking tank. Flying cars. Flipping cars. Furious cars. Silly cars. Cars. CARS. Caaaaaaaaaars. CAAAAARRRRRRRSSSSSSS!! And occasionally motorbikes.
Considering that my knowledge of cars extends only as far as knowing that a) they have four wheels except when they don’t, and b) they sometimes come in red, I should really hate the Fast and Furious franchise and for a while I was happy to oblige.
They always struck me as equal parts creepy and desperate, struggling with all their might to sell me this cultish lifestyle of vehicular bacchanalia. “Ride or die” they growled at me, these cow-bodied car-men, flexing their big boy muscles in their little boy vests, sipping their beers and fondling their women (those poor women – glass-eyed slatterns, trying to remember their mothers’ pleading face and how their childhood bedroom smelled, only ever of value when plaintively rubbing their bums against cars with a lost, bewildered frenzy, like they knew, like they just knew that if they ever stop rubbing and bumping and flopping their silly limbs about like shoelaces in a storm, if they ever stopped for even an instant, their hearts would simply break). These films seemed the propaganda of a thug religion and I wanted no part of it.
But then Fast and the Furious 5 decided it would rather be a fun heist movie instead.
Also, and this can’t be over-stated, the Rock was in it, and he’s the size of two men glued together, both equally furious about being glued together and determined to enact said fury upon the world via the twin pain delivery systems that The Rock keeps at the ends of his arms. 5 didn’t take itself seriously and spent all of the time it normally wastes on depicting the drag race scene (a hive of silly pants’d wankers) on fun things like stunt choreography and weighty, well-shot vehicular mayhem.
So it’s with a heavy heart that I report that Fast and Furious 6 doesn’t seem to have entirely learned its lesson from its dumb but fun older brother. We seem to be back in Feelings Country, and none of the cast speak the language. Vin Diesel’s ex, Michelle Rodriguez is back and working for a local ne’erdowell called Who The Fuck Cares. Why is she a villain now? She’s been diagnosed with bump-on-the-noggin amnesia and remembers sweet Betty Buggerall about Vin and the gang, although how in the entire realm of medical science a lady could ever forget being seen to by Vin Diesel is something I cannot and will not fathom.
This shocking character development either confuses, irritates or amuses Vin Diesel. It’s hard to tell, because of his face. Vin Diesel is good at many things – sipping Coronas, wearing vests, having a car under his arse – but making with the Human Feels isn’t one of them, and the fact that this movie wastes so much time on brooding sucks a lot of the previously-attained joy and momentum from its engine. Brotherhood, the drag racing scene, Ride or Die, all these po-faced ‘themes’ come back, it’s all trying too hard and it’s all getting in the way of my fun.
There are moments of unintentional comedy though. Paul Walker has a kid in this movie, and he and Vin Diesel compete over who can force the poor thing to love cars the most in a startling case of nurture performing a hit and run on nature. There’s also a seduction scene where Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez compare scars and sexual encounters, all of which manages to be less sexy than hearing a sex offender whisper your home address to you over the phone.
It doesn’t help either that The Rock doesn’t get to do much of the action stuff this time around. As 5‘s antagonist his job was to match Vin Diesel fist and kick, and his presence was a kinetic slab of happiness. 6, however, pegs him as a fellow good guy and seeing as the movie is already overstuffed with Good Guys, he’s relegated to briefings, quips and one nice fight at the end. The Rock’s a charming man, and has a more commanding presence than a testicle in a salad, but he’s wasted here.
The plot’s a whisper at a fireworks display too. Who The Fuck Cares wants to get his hands on a Who The Fuck Cares, and Vin Diesel decides that that’s not going down. Not in Vin’s World. And then cars happens.
But that’s Fast and Furious 6‘s trump card. When cars be smashing, Adam be clappin’, and the movie still knows its way around a high octane chase or two. The London car scenes are shot too dark and too shaky-cam’d to be truly exciting rather than dizzying, but there’s a gorgeously daft highway set-piece in Spain (featuring a staggering amount of civilian murder that crosses from horror into parody and back into horror again) and Haywire‘s Gina Carano and The Raid‘s Joe Taslim can more than shoulder the burden of a fight scene, despite having otherwise thankless roles.
It’s in these action set-pieces that the film flies. They are absurd, never allowing logic or human taste to restrain the bigger, the badder, the harder, the faster. One scene takes place on a plane, speeding down the single longest runway in human history. I actually worked this one out. The pilots proclaim their plane to be “at takeoff speed” (it’s a big plane, so let’s average it out at 180mph) for the entirety of the scene, which runs for 13 minutes in real time. That means the runway must have been at least 39 miles long. Just to give you some perspective, if you ran a straight line from the most western point of London to the most eastern, that line would only be 35 miles long.
Ultimately, the action nonsense outweighs the brooding nonsense and I’m not about to deny a recommendation, however slight, to a movie that features The Rock and Vin Diesel performing a Doomsday Device (look it up) on a hapless villain. You already know if you like Fast and Furious 6 and frankly whatever you’re expecting, be it trash or treasure, you’re not wrong. I just hope that the end-credits-promised Fast and Furious 7 remembers that when we take our seats in the cinema – as I inevitably will – that we’re not looking for a movie about fast cars, just a movie that has fast cars in it.
EDIT – All roads lead to this…Pre-order Fast & Furious 6 now! Get the extreme action and reckless stunts on the first day of release by pre-ordering from Amazon.co.uk . Fast & Furious 6, is released on Blu-ray™ and DVD – both with UltraViolet™ from 16th September, 2013.
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