'Fast and Furious 6' continues to outrun the competition

Blockbuster action flick is pure, un-pc, testosterone-laden fun. Photo: Universal Studios.

WASHINGTON, June 7, 2013 – Good news, action movie fans. All the positive buzz you’ve been hearing about “Fast and Furious 6” is on target. Not only is this film, well, fast and furious. It’s also developing what was once a purely fast-car series of summer movies into something a little more complex without stinting on the fireworks.

In other words, there’s a little more story line in “Fast 6” and a little more character development, too. That puts this latest installment of the “Fast” franchise on the entertainment fast track, taking a chance by looking beyond the standard souped up cars and spectacular crashes and explosions to come up with with something a bit more adult and evolutionary. Although not so much so that the successive “Fast” entries will lose that coveted youthful male demographic.

Want proof? Even in its second weekend at the box office, “Fast 6” mertlized the debut of Will Smith & Son’s disastrous “Near Earth,” topping expectations. Credit much of this to the predictably macho performances of action movie heroes Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who really gets a chance to pound some a__ in the film’s spectacular if improbable finale.

“Fast and Furious 6” cast members arrayed in Universal promo.

“Fast 6’s” tissue-thin plot first finds our heroes relaxing in exotic locales, living in the lap of luxury with their current hot babes, although none of the happy couples have apparently thought to vet their arrangements via a local justice of the peace. So much for setting a good moral example for that desirable demographic, although that’s about as sexy as things get in this PG-13 film where souped up cars get the most attention.

At any rate, after that successful and most enriching Rio caper they carried out in “Fast 5,” Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew are shacking up around the globe, proving that professional thieves really finish first in 21st century economies.

SEE RELATED: Numbers game: ‘Fast 6’ clobbers Will Smith’s ‘After Earth’

Dominic camps out with Elena (Elsa Petaki), having apparently lost gal pal, macha Latina Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), in a thunderous crash and explosion in the previous installment. Dominic’s kid sister Mia (Jordanna Brewster) is hanging out with ex-cop Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) with whom she’s just had a son. Gisele (Gal Gadot) and Han (Sung Kang) are hanging in Hong Kong, and actually do seem about to get serious about that elusive JP. And cool dudes Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris Bridges) are just having fun.

Of course, this can’t last for long or we won’t get to see awesome car chases and creative ways to make things blow up. Enter The Rock portraying Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) special agent Luke Hobbs who is, believe it or not, sent by the Feds—along with fellow agent Riley Hicks (Gina Carano) to investigate why a former British Special Forces op, Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), has eviscerated a Russian military convoy in the shadow of the Kremlin.

Aside from the fact that we DC denizens have yet to hear of this new entourage of spy cops known as DSS, these guys appear to have more latitude on conducting black ops than either NSA or the CIA. They also seem to be working with a vastly more substantial budget than even the IRS was able to pre-sequester for its opulent, morale building dance parties and crucial four corner offense moves against those revolting Tea Party patriots.

Not bothering to wait for Chucky Schumer and Marco Rubio’s broad immigration legislation to wend its way through Congress, Luke “The Rock” Hobbs offers Dominic & Co. full amnesty for their past crimes which would enable them to return stateside again, and, presumably, collect welfare, Social Security, and presumably unemployment comp should they run through all their Rio loot. Although having seen the places where they were hanging out, you wonder why they might be tempted by this kind of offer, given that their chosen locales don’t have current extradition arrangements with the U.S.

SEE RELATED: Beautiful and Damned: Baz Luhrmann’s garish ‘Great Gatsby’

At any rate, Luke tempts Dominic by showing him photos that prove the long-lost Letty is still alive (and still hot), and that’s enough to swing he and his buds into international action and intrigue, functioning as a sort of Dirty Almost Dozen operatives for Uncle Sam once removed.

The rest of the plot is pretty predictable. Shaw turns out to be a seriously ice-cold bad guy who sets up all manner of diversions to keep Dominic and crew guessing about his intentions, which have always involved swiping a super double-top-secret device that can knock out electric power throughout an entire region, sort of like airdropping aluminum Christmas tinsel does now except that these devices are more expensive to manufacture and contractual arrantements probably require union labor.

Just like one of The Rock’s old WWE wrestling matches, the bad guys seriously clobber the good guys during Round 1. Worse, Letty shows up as part of Shaw’s gang and promptly shoots Dominic. (She’s apparently now afflicted with amnesia.) But the guys regroup and eventually continue the battle, which ends in a spectacular and lengthy cars vs. cargo plane chase on a remote NATO airbase in Spain. And oh, yeah, Mia gets kidnapped, too. But you knew that from the outset.

For a sampling of the action, here’s one of the official Universal movie trailers:

We won’t spoil the surprises for you, but things do end happily ever after, more or less, although there are apparent casualties in this operation. The boys (and their girls) do get to return to the U.S., which we guess is a good thing for them, although if we’d been Dominic, we’d have stayed in the Canaries with both Elena and Letty and perhaps a couple dozen vials of performance-enhancing drugs.

We do get a plot twist after the credits, though, indicating that “Fast 7” likely is not far behind. This device, which first became popular in the Marvel Comics-based films leading up to “The Avengers” if we remember this correctly, is starting to get a little irritating, particularly since the rolling credits at the end of big special-effects films seem to be acknowledging working crews whose numbers equal or beat New York City’s latest census figures. But hey, this is Hollywood, and nothing succeeds like, well, you know.

So, snarkiness aside, did we like the film. Sure we did. It’s a couple hours of great macho guy stuff. The bad guys mostly get it in the end. And besides, what guy under 70 these days doesn’t appreciate seeing a lot of stuff get blown up while our heroes make lame jokes about their serial near-death experiences? Of course you remember what it was like blowing up ant mounds with cherry bombs or blowing toads out of their mudholes with M-80s, right? Who wouldn’t want to relive glorious experiences like these? On the other hand, maybe we shouldn’t talk about this here. The NSA might be monitoring us.

Anyhow, the acting in “Fast 6” is decent. Plot twists are a little farfetched at times, but no more so than in most films in this genre.

Better yet, we learn important lessons, namely that  the dudes and dudettes in this film are loyal pals and that family, however absurdly extended, always comes first (which Dominic tells us about forty times). And we also discover this crucial and surprising truth: the international thugs, drug peddlers, arms traders, and just plain terrorists who threaten us around the world are mostly white guys and Chinese guys with British accents, not the harmless Islamofascists that Bush and the bitter-clingers have wrongly led us to fear.

In short, “Fast 6” is manly summer fun for real guys, a guilt-free, low-calorie two hours or so of macho action, cars and destruction where the testosterone quotient is high; where the occurrences of political correctness, feminazi jeremiads and anti-American propaganda are virtually (and blessedly) non-existent; and where having sex either occurs offstage or not at all. It’s like gorging on hot peppers without breaking a sweat or without moaning in the morning during the output phase.

According to several sources, some 75 percent of critics liked the film. The Rotten Tomatoes consensus tracks about the same, as does nearly everyone else. We’d give it an A- for fun and explosions, a B+ for the corny jokes, intentional or not, and an Incomplete for intellectual content. In other words, we liked it a lot. Wanna race?

Read more of Terry’s news and reviews at Curtain Up! in the Entertain Us neighborhood of the Washington Times Communities. For Terry’s investing and political insights, visit his Communities columns, The Prudent Man and Morning Market Maven, in Business.

Follow Terry on Twitter @terryp17


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Terry Ponick

Now writing on investing, politics, music, movies and theater for the Washington Times Communities, Terry was formerly the longtime music and culture critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2009) before moving online with Communities in 2010.  



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