Friday, August 30, 2013

Film Review: Fast & Furious 6

Fast and Furious.  This series is undoubtedly one of the most Bro movie series' of all time.  It has fast cars, big strong dudes, a lot of half-dressed women and - in the most recent installments - guns and explosions.  What more can you ask for in a movie?  Well some people would argue that a compelling story would be nice.  Normally I'd be that guy, but there are some movies in which the reasoning behind the events taking place just doesn't matter as much.  I would argue that with the first 5 Fast and Furious films, the question was not "why", but "why not".  This approach worked really well for them as the series quickly started to become the new Die Hard.

However in the newest movie in the franchise, Fast and Furious 6 changed the formula slightly.  Now don't get me wrong, I am definitely not saying there were any radical changes, so don't worry, F&F 6 is just as high octane, high adrenaline, and low riding as ever.  I won't even go as far as to say they put a spin on it; more like the wind adjusted some particles on it's way through the hoop.  Well come on then, what's this change?  What are these particles that have been moved?  Well in a word: sentiment.  The way the series has gone on so far has allowed for a lot of different locations and characters to be introduced.  Now some of us don't like to admit it, but we're all kind of suckers for nostalgia when it comes to something we really like.  Now if you haven't seen the first couple Fast and Furious movies (particularly the first 3), don't worry, this one is still awesome.  However if you have seen the rest of the movies, this one seems so much sweeter.  I won't get into spoilers but if you're a fan, or at least were a fan of the Fast and Furious movies before this, I highly recommend seeing it.

I have a bunch more I could say, but not without getting into spoilers territory so if you want to see this movie, stop reading here.

I already warned you once, but here's another warning...


Ok good, if you're still reading this far, I assume you're either reading ahead a little bit because you're curious, or you've seen the movie.  Or you just don't care about spoilers.  In any case, this section is going to go a little bit deeper into the movie.

So Letty's back, yay!  Now before I get into that whole kettle of fish though, just remember what I said earlier about sentiment.  Ok moving on.  So for those of you who have been following the series, you know that Dom and Letty have what people like to call "a history".  Now that history is mostly pretty awesome.  It's filled with them swashbuckling around the open roads, stealing stuff and racing cars (am I aloud to use the word 'swashbuckling' when it's on dry land?); pretty awesome right?  Well for those of you who don't know, Dom and Letty have been good ol' pals for ages, ever since they were about 15+.  I don't think the movies go a lot into their romance story beyond that, but that's not really important.  The important part is that they are shown as essentially the perfect pairing and suddenly, boom: Letty dies in "Fast and Furious" (the 4th movie in the series).  Naturally Dom is all torn up and that leads him on this revenge crazed mission with Brian who's with the FBI at that point.  It's a very convenient excuse to get Dom and Brian back working together and busting some heads.  But now that Letty's back (as foreshadowed in Fast 5), Dom's starting to get excited again.  Now that brings us to the part in Fast 6 where his new girlfriend from Interpol says something along the lines of, "If that were my husband I'd go after him too.  You need to go find her..." or something equally as strange and somewhat cheesy.  This is not the movie's finest moment but I figured I'd get it out of the way now so we're only going up from here.  Ok so we're going to get into some story stuff here, you guys ready?

As you will know if you have seen the movie, Letty has lost her memory. Yes, this is bad news for Dom and the gang as not only does she not remember them, but she's also working for the baddies.  Whoops.  However tragic the tail of Letty's accident and explosion escaping skills, this gives us a very good portal for motivation.  Dom sees Letty very early on, which eased my mind of a very serious question/fear I had that they would end up playing long-arsed footsies for the whole movie (forgive the British colloquialism but I can get away with it since the movie's set in London for most of the time).  This also gives Dom a reason to continue on.  Now this sets up our theme for the movie: Reclamation.  Why reclamation?  Well of course there's Dom and Letty; since one of them has amnesia, it's the other's job to bring her back to her family.  They both reclaim the lives they lost.  For Brian, it's about getting his old life back (not his old life as a cop necessarily, but his life of action and movement), and in the end of the movie, about literally getting his wife back.  For the rest of the crew, sure they get back in the fast lane too, but what's perhaps more important, is they reclaim their freedom.  Now here comes that nostalgia: at the end of the film, the crew gets their old house back.  Sure it is just a house, and yes it's kind of run down in a far from ideal part of town, but as corny as it sounds, fans of the series know that even though that house was really only a major part of the first installment, it's a symbol non-the-less.  It's a symbol of the 'good old days' and the freedom they all had before they started romping around the globe causing chaos and spreading mayhem.  The crew has changed slightly over the years, but they're still a family as they would put it.  Them getting the old house back is the rebirth of something old, but something that will turn into something new.  What something you ask?  What could possibly happen next?  We don't know for sure, but we have a few clues to work off of; Jason Statham to name one.  For this next part, we're going to mess with the timeline a bit here, so stay with me.

The third installment of the Fast and Furious franchise was called "Tokyo Drift" and was set, as you may well guess, in Tokyo.  This movie however, only had one character from the previous two Fast and Furious movies and he was only in the last 6 seconds of the movie.  This film introduced all new characters and a new style of racing previously untouched by the series: drifting.  Tokyo Drift however, is our first introduction to Han.  Now of course Han plays a pretty large role in Fast 5 and 6, but what appears to be his entire story is encapsulated into this one movie.  Now let's just take some time here and look at Han as a character.  He is technically speaking a supporting character.  Supporting who?  Well Dom and Brian of course.  However Han is a very complex and even somewhat dynamic character if you look at his 'story arch' over the course of all the movies he appears in.  Now things do get a little weird when he keeps saying he's going to Tokyo (like at the end of the 4th and 5th movies) but he ends up in the next movie all the same.  We keep assuming that he's going to Tokyo Drift, but he keeps coming back!  Of course I didn't mind, I thought he was a great character and I hated to see him go in T.D.  Although he is a side character, Han really has the capacity to be a main character if the story was geared a little bit more in his direction.  He has his little quirks right from the moment we meet him, such as the fact that he used to smoke and now pushes that urge to do something with his hands down by eating snacks all the time, but more importantly, Fast 6 gives him some trauma to work with.  He was given something great in his relationship with Ms Glow-kini from Fast 5, and had it taken away from him in the next movie.  Now of course this is a very localized and compressed sub-plot, but it's still quite impactful.  This of course gives him his motivation to go to Tokyo - for realz this time - and start his drift racing career just in time to become a mentor for some white hillbilly kid from the US with maturity issues.  Now at the end of Fast 6, we are forced to relive Han's death scene, but luckily from a distance as who else but Jason Statham decides to show up and set him on fire.  That's cold Jason, real cold... or you know, warm.  So now we've gotten some closure on one character who we've grown to know and love, and we've been introduced to a new villain, but even better yet, they're connected, and we have a perfect revenge sub-plot for the next film all set up and ready to go.  Who is this new guy? I don't know.  Will the next film take us back to Tokyo for some drift racing?  Maybe.  Will that kid from Tokyo Drift be in the next movie?  Maybe; I'm a sucker for references, I absolutely love them for some reason, I just think they're the best thing ever.  But I'd be perfectly happy if that guy didn't show up again.  I just really didn't get into him as a character, but that's an issue for another time.  Maybe I'll talk about characters some time because that's something I know a lot about.  But until then, you have this fabulous review of Fast and Furious 6 to mull over.

Have any theories on how the next Fast and Furious movie might go?  Post in the comments!  I'd be intersted to see if other people's ideas are similar to my own and what other shenanigans you think the O'Coretto family can get into.

Well that about wraps it up here for me.  I'm not going to bother talking about lighting and camera work and sets and blah blah blah because guess what?  It's a Hollywood movie.  I've said this before, but just in case you didn't read my last film review, I don't see the point in reviewing something's aesthetic quality from Hollywood unless it's either unusual, extremely outstanding and unexpected, or really bad.  As for acting, well again, it's a Hollywood movie with the Rock so... well I'll let you take that one as you will.

Until next time, "Ride or Die, remember?"

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