Fast and Furious 6

After their heist in Rio de Janeiro netted the gang a cool $100-million, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) have settled down in a nation that has beautiful scenery and no extradition treaty with the United States.  Dom lives with Elena (Elsa Pataky) and Brian is with Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and their newborn son Jack.  The rest of the crew is scattered around the world enjoying the lifestyle their ill-gotten gains provides.  Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) of the Diplomatic Security Service tracks Dom to his home.  Hobbs, along with newly assigned Agent Riley (Gina Carano), is on the trail of a former British Special Forces soldier named Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) who with his gang has hit several military convoys recently, collecting the parts necessary to build a device called Nightshade.  Nightshade disrupts military communications for 24 hours, making any country it is used against vulnerable to attack.  If Shaw is able to collect one last component, it would be worth billions and could lead to the deaths of millions.  Hobbs wants Dom and his gang to help catch Shaw and his crew.  As incentive, Hobbs shows Dom a picture taken a week earlier of one of Shaw’s gang.  It’s Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), Dom’s former girlfriend who he thought was dead.  Dom agrees to get the band back together and meets Hobbs in London.  There, the crew says they will help if, in exchange, Hobbs arranges full pardons for everyone.  Hobbs reluctantly agrees and sets up Dom and the gang with the best equipment and provides them a fleet of high-powered cars to help chase down Shaw.
 
“Fast and Furious 6” reunites most of the cast from the last film and mostly stays away from the illegal street racing that comprised a large part of the previous films.  While there is a great deal of fast car chases, most of it is more in the vein of traditional action picture antics.  While we do get one street race through London, it is meant as a way to reintroduce Dom and Letty to each other.  The sprinkling of car racing gives “Fast and Furious 6” a boost in the plotting department and makes the ridiculously over-the-top car and physical stunts more meaningful, if not more believable.
 
While none of the cast is a great performer, all the actors pull off their roles and their types pretty well.  Paul Walker still can’t act and is mostly on hand to be the pretty boy with the bright blue eyes.  Diesel and Johnson have the tough guy angle handled.  Tyrese Gibson and Chris “Ludakris” Bridges are the comic relief.  Pataky, Brewster, Rodriguez, Carano and Gal Gadot are the beautiful but tough women.  Sung Kang is on hand to provide the added ethnic mix of someone who isn’t white or black.  Kang’s character of Han is surprisingly not stereotyped as an Asian that knows some form of martial arts.  In fact, his one major fight scene is laughable with his apparent lack of skills.    What is stereotypical is Luke Evans as the uber-criminal Shaw.  He has his operatives everywhere with every contingency considered and planned for.  He’s the kind of bad guy that, if he existed in real life, would have taken over the world a long time ago.  It’s a credit to the screenwriters that this mystique of invulnerability is maintained through the whole film, even when Dom and the gang manage to disrupt Shaw’s plans.  It’s only through pure determination and impossible feats of physical and mechanical prowess that he is ultimately defeated.
 
Some of the stunts in the film are so beyond the pale as to be laughable.  On one occasion, I actually said out loud, “Oh, come on!” during one particularly implausible feat.  The film’s final action piece is also something that could never actually happen in real life.  It involves a plane, a runway that appears to be 10 miles long and impossibly strong materials from which the plane is apparently constructed.  The scene is part of the trailer and the TV commercial so you’ve probably seen small bits of it.  This last action piece seems to go on for an eternity and is comprised of at least five different fist fights, nearly a dozen vehicles, lots of gun play and more.  It is a cornucopia of action silliness that finally brings the movie to a rousing, if unbelievable, end.
 
Even with all of its silliness, “Fast and Furious 6” has a sweet and tender message of supporting and protecting your family; whether you’re related by blood or by experiences.  It’s because Dom wants to rescue Letty that he takes the mission from Hobbs in the first place.  There are other family ties throughout the film as well, making this version of the franchise probably the most emotional and, dare I say, complex one of the lot.  While it’s not the modern version of Shakespeare, “Fast and Furious 6” still manages to tell an interesting story is a more intelligent way than most of its predecessors.  You have to give it credit for that despite all the laws of physics, metallurgy and gravity it breaks.
 
“Fast and Furious 6” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, intense sequences of action, language, mayhem throughout and some sexuality.  There are fights, car crashes, shootings, knifings and explosions throughout the film.  Despite all this, there is only a little blood and no gore.  The sexuality is brief and not graphic and foul language is scattered and not very intense.
 
When the credits first come on screen, don’t jump up to leave as there is a brief bonus scene that sets up “Fast 7.”  It introduces the villain and it is a familiar face to action fans.  The next film could be the most intense of the lot with this star on board.  I hope the eagerness to make another film, with a release date tentatively set for summer 2014, doesn’t mean the next “Fast and Furious” is a slapped together affair like the second and third films of the series.  Since audiences seem unable to get enough muscle cars and equally muscled heroes, the only way the “Fast and Furious” franchise could be wrecked is if the filmmakers and the studio take their eyes off the road and drive head on into sloppy sequels.  They avoided that fate on this entry.
 
“Fast and Furious 6” gets five turbo-charged guitars out of five.
 
The summer movie season kicks into high gear with more new releases this week.  Vote for the next film I see and review.
 
After Earth— A crash landing leaves teenager Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) and his legendary father Cypher (Will Smith) stranded on Earth, 1,000 years after cataclysmic events forced humanity’s escape.
 
At Any Price— In the competitive world of modern agriculture, ambitious Henry Whipple (Dennis Quaid) wants his rebellious son Dean (Zac Efron) to help expand his family’s farming empire. However, Dean has his sights set on becoming a professional race car driver. When a high-stakes investigation into their business is exposed, father and son are pushed into an unexpected crisis that threatens the family’s entire livelihood.
 
The Iceman— Inspired by actual events, The Iceman follows notorious contract killer Richard Kuklinski (Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon) from his early days in the mob until his arrest for the murder of more than 100 men.
 
Now You See Me— The world's greatest illusionists - "The Four Horsemen" - pull off a series of daring heists against corrupt business leaders during their performances. The super-team of illusionists shower the stolen profits on their audiences while staying one step ahead of an elite FBI squad in a game of cat-and-mouse.
 
Stan’s Choice—Stan see and reviews any film of his choice currently in theatres.
 
Release dates are subject to change and not all films may be shown in Knoxville, TN.
 
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