The sixth movie in a franchise is probably not the right place to jump in, but I was in the mood for cars, capers, and global big adventure. Fast & Furious 6 delivers.
They start by getting the gang back together, a sequence that didn’t mean a lot to me. But it’s clear why this franchise is so appealing — beyond the one white guy (Paul Walker), the cast looks like the world. The characters are a lot more diverse — more women, a variety of backgrounds and skin colors — than you see in many action films. Characters even get to humiliate the snotty British guy who tells them they obviously don’t have enough money to buy the fancy cars. Not all are great actors, and occasional line readings fall with a clunk, but some, at least, are magnetic on screen, including Ludacris and Sung Kang.
The group of racers is working with an agent (Dwayne Johnson) who wants to round up a criminal gang led by Shaw (Luke Evans). Dom (Vin Diesel) thought his girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) was dead, but she’s with the gang, although she has amnesia. The others of the racing group (including Tyrese Gibson), are working for pardons. There are many extreme vehicle sequences, including one with a tank.
One unfortunate moment occurs after one of the big set pieces. Walker’s car crashes, and his girlfriend (Jordana Brewster), talking to him on the phone afterwards, says something like, “as long as you’re alive.” Given recent news, that will strike many fans as an unpleasant reminder. But that kind of unreal survival is typical of movies like this, where death-defying stunts are performed for our entertainment. Most of the time, there’s a sense of humor about it.
It’s unclear, at this point, whether Fast & Furious 7, already in production, will be concluded, given Walker’s passing. If not, 6 is a high point to end on — although there’s a fascinating hint of more to come in a quick credit sequence. Fast & Furious 6 is ridiculously over-the-top in plenty of adrenaline-boosting ways. Here’s the trailer for the Blu-ray release.
On Blu-ray, you have the options of watching the theatrical (2 hours 10 minutes) version or an extended edition (an additional minute total, details here). The Blu-ray combo pack also comes with a DVD and an UltraViolet copy, as well as an iTunes digital copy.
There’s a film commentary by director Justin Lin, as well as a two-minute first look at Fast & Furious 7, set at the funeral of one of the gang. (Whether it makes it into the actual movie or not, given circumstances, is anyone’s guess.) Three deleted scenes last less than two minutes and seem pretty pointless.
“Take Control” (19 minutes, Blu-ray only) features Diesel, Walker, Rodriguez, and Lin talking about the cars, the cast, the fights, and connections among the movies. With all the title variations, it can be quite funny hearing them specify which film.
“The Making of Fast & Furious 6″ has four parts:
* “The Fastest of Them All” (10 minutes) looks at the film compared to previous installments of the franchise.
* “Reuniting the Team” (7 1/2 minutes) discusses the cast and characters.
* “Letty’s Return” (5 minutes) is about the “dead” character coming back.
* “The Mastermind and the Mole” (4 1/2 minutes) covers two new characters played by Luke Evans and Gina Carano.
“Planes, Tanks, and Automobiles” (Blu-ray only) looks at four different action sequences: “The London Chase” (8 minutes), “Highway Heist: The Convoy Attack” (6 1/2 minutes — this is the one with the tank), “The Antonov Takedown” (6 minutes on the finale), and “Dom and Letty Race Again” (3 1/2 minutes). My favorite part is seeing them mapping out stunt sequences with matchbox cars.
“Hand to Hand Fury” (10 minutes, Blu-ray only) covers the fight choreography. “It’s All About the Cars” has three sub-features. “On the Set With Vin” (3 minutes) has Diesel driving through an explosive setup. “Gearhead’s Delight” (6 1/2 minutes, Blu-ray only) shows off some of the cars from the film. “The Flip Car” (5 1/2 minutes, Blu-ray only) is about the weird triangular vehicle that exists to somersault other vehicles. (The studio provided a review copy.)