Length: 130 minutes
Release Date: May 24, 2013
Directed by: Justin Lin
Stars: 3.5 out of 5
The "Fast & Furious" franchise has always been kind enough to its audience to keep things simple, without a bunch of metaphor or undue complexity. The makers of these films seem to be fully aware the viewing public doesn't sit down in the proverbial air-conditioned theater for a summer action thriller and expect to see a thought-provoking meditation on the transient nature of joy, starring Meryl Streep. No, the "Fast & Furious 6" audience has a certain picture in mind before buying the ticket, and director Justin Lin does what he can to live up to it.
It certainly can't be said that "Fast & Furious 6" lets down the fans of the franchise. Indeed, this installment brings the story arc of the last five movies around to something resembling closure. Having secured $100 million and toppled a criminal empire, Dom (Vin Diesel) and his crew are living in exile abroad. Unfortunately, yet another criminal enterprise-this one specializing in highly skilled mercenary stunt drivers-threatens everything. Only by reuniting the old gang and setting ablaze the macadam roads of London can the crew defeat the menace and secure the pardons they'll need to settle down at last.
It must be said that in a movie like "Fast & Furious 6," the plot is largely incidental. This isn't a taut political thriller that hinges on subtle character interplay, this is a smash-'em-up action flick about crashing ridiculously expensive cars in front of the world's most famous landmarks. That having been said, even a thriller needs some elements to come off well, lest it lose the magic that's been drawing fans for the last five installments.
The first of these elements is obviously the cast. The gang's all here for "Fast & Furious 6." Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and even Michelle Rodriguez, who has long been thought dead, have come back together to restore their special onscreen chemistry. Fans love this, and far be it from a "Fast & Furious" movie to balk at the will of its audience. Ludacris also appears in the movie, playing Tej with his customary aplomb. One thing to note is his title in the credits. He appears as "Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges." It's possible that by reaching out a bit to include his full name, the rapper-turned-actor is beginning the transition from his stage persona to a more personal and less affected personality as, simply, actor Chris Bridges. This bears watching, as Bridges has a future ahead of him in acting, should he so choose.
Beyond the plot and the cast lies that nebulous cloud of factors known collectively as production values. "Fast & Furious 6" continues in the tradition of its predecessor movies by sparing no expense here. The films have always had a mostly visual impact, which is why exquisite attention to detail has always been paid to the lighting, production design, and art direction. These elements are mostly hidden as far as the audience is concerned, but it's certain the viewers will notice if something just "isn't right" with the look and feel of the film, even if they can't quite put a finger on what might be amiss.
"Fast & Furious 6" hits all the right notes for production values, and even more of those proverbial right notes for its excellent editing. It's easy to underrate editing as a factor in filmmaking, but there's a reason it has its own Academy Award. Any film can suffer or thrive by the efforts of its editing crew, and for an action movie that hinges on spectacular car crashes and extremely fast-paced action scenes, this is even more the case. Without skillful jump cuts and generally attentive splicing, a movie intended to keep a viewer clinging to the edge of a theater seat becomes, instead, just a movie about stunt drivers going around corners a little too quickly. Indeed, in a film with so many car chases, editing might actually be one of the more important jobs, given the difficulty most movies have with spatial awareness and keeping audience members feeling they know what's going on with every character during a complicated action sequence.
While "Fast & Furious 6" isn't-nor was it ever intended to be-slow, ponderous, or thinky, between the veteran cast and dedicated direction, backed up by all the skill that can be bought or borrowed in Hollywood, the movie clearly lives up to its fans' expectations and delivers a, well, fast and furious thrill ride.