Fast & Furious 6 – The Monocle

Fast & Furious 6 - Monocle Movie Review
Directed by: Justin Lin
Written by: Chris Morgan
Released: May 24th, 2013
Theatre watched at: Edwards Cinemas Spectrum, Irvine

Deep story? No! Intelligent dialogue? Nu uh! Physics?! F*CK IT! This is Fast and Furious, baby! I’m talking fast cars, kick ass woman, testosterone like it’s a family sized dish at Buca di Beppo, with a dollop of beautiful scenery and incredible stunts! This is the frat boy of the action genre-he isn’t the smartest, but he knows how to party. Now I’ve been getting some flack from those who don’t share the same enthusiasm for the series, and I get it; it’s very easy to take a movie like this and mix it in with the rest of the “dumb” summer blockbusters, and how could you not, the producers sell it as such. However, if you give this franchise a chance to let it do what it sets out to do, you’ll find that even the dumb trail can pass by moments of inventiveness, craftsmanship, and fun…and if you don’t care, honestly, just stop reading now-this is a fan review for a movie made for the fans.

If you stayed for the post-credit scene of Fast Five (2011) you will have already known that Fast & Furious 6 centers around the return of Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) girlfriend Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), who was thought to have been killed and buried in Fast & Furious (2009). When Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is notified of Letty’s alliance with a team of heist specialists lead by Owen Shaw, a former British Special Forces agent turned black market military weapons manufacture and dealer, he’s forced to seek the help of Dom and his team to stop Shaw from stealing parts needed to create his next weapon. The team accepts to help take down Shaw in return for full pardons of their past crimes and a chance to make their family whole again by retrieving Letty.

There can be no greater guilty pleasure than the Fast and Furious series for it has struck like lightning five times before and it has struck once again; Furious 6 goes larger in every way, admittedly so much so the action enters ridiculous and silly levels beyond the series has reached thus far, but it is balanced by a humorous script, tight pace, and a fun story that makes a conscious effort to tie the series together. Justin Lin has proven to be the go-to director for the 130 min summer blockbuster, even defeating the likes of Michael Bay who can’t direct characters to save his life, let alone a meaningful story.

When directing the brainless summer flick, the difference between Lin’s style and the rest of them is a skillful precision for laying on “the beats.” A “beat” in the film industry is a term that is thrown around when thinking of the narrative structure of a movie, it’s used much like a pin on a map to give placement to a certain emotional cue in order to keep the story not only dynamic but moving forward. Lin can take a script, spread it out, and then begin to figure out where the humor beats should go, how long after an action beat an emotional beat should drop in, where the story can take a momentary dip for a rest beat; the summer flick is a dance for the audience’s attention and Lin is leading.

While the film is a dance as a whole, we all know what we’re really there for is the signature vehicular mayhem. The action sequences are insane in scope as they are in their execution and make high-octane seem like it’s been smoking a joint. There are three major action beats, two which conquer the end of the film, but all of which will have you on the edge of your seat. Although neither quite reaches the same brilliance of Fast Five‘s bank vault chase, the climactic tank and plane sequence teased in the trailers are the gems here; they are beautifully choreographed and exhilaratingly edited pieces of action cinema that really deserve a pat on the back for the technical skills required to stage a tank trampling cars on a freeway and military vehicles dangling from the side of an enormous plane. Oh, and by the way, much of this is done PRACTICALLY (an aspect many detractors seem to overlook); an always commendable feat. The magic of these sequences of course would not be complete without participation from you-suspend that belief, folks, because yes, there are supposed to be innocent people in those cars being crushed (because who cares about citizens in actions films right?), and it is a runway that is longer than Paul Walkers emotional pauses, but this is one of those times you are supposed to say “who gives a f*ck?!”

I’ll admit, even I laughed a tiny bit at the ridiculousness of the stunts (especially the end to the tank sequence), but there are redeeming factors in the other aspects of the film that make this enjoyable outside the action. Fast & Furious 6 is undoubtedly the funniest in the franchise, with much of the comic-relief coming from Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris Bridges) taking shots at each other, and there is a good amount of fist fighting going on with the ladies; Gina Carano makes a welcome new character as she provides multiple believable and kick ass fight scenes with Michelle Rodriguez, equaling the fight scene between Diesel and Johnson in Five. The freshest aspect of it all is Lin’s use of constant multiplicity, adding a new layer to the haste of the film. In many of the action beats, the overall piece is divided functionally and geographically, meaning there is more than one action piece occurring simultaneously in different places and are being interwoven together. The plane sequence features three separate fights in the plane alone as the team tries to stop Shaw, while two are occurring outside as they deal with taking down the plane. It’s a frenzy, and it never lets go.

Fans of the series will know that Lin definitely has a hard time letting go, constantly making past references and bringing back old characters from previous entries. A large part of the narrative excitement doesn’t deal with the main story itself, but more how the subplot takes the time to tie in all of the previous films together. Not only does it service the characters and Lin’s narrative contribution to the series, it makes for a few special guest appearances as well as a feeling of closure-a safe place for fans to know they’ve been a part of something that was there from the beginning, and now things can start anew.

Speaking of anew, don’t think of leaving after the cut to black, or you’ll be missing one of the best post-credits scenes ever made…and with that, we’ll be re-visiting the series next July for Fast & Furious 7.

Bow Tie Approved

Bow Tie Score - 4.0