Directed by Justin Lin
May 7, 2013 (Empire, Leicester Square) / May 24, 2013 (United States)
Dominic Toretto and his friends get a chance at redemption and a new life when Hobbs seeks their help to stop a group of criminals his once thought dead Letty is a part of.
This definitely moved the series into the superspy realm and away from street racing. Completely gone is a need to race to advance the plot. We got some cool car action here throughout but street racing aside from one brief scene was all but left behind. The action is car focused with our villain Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) who is a former British SAS soldier intent on stealing high tech equipment to create a weapon that can blackout an entire nation. Very old school James Bond villain in the thinking there. He and his team of baddies accomplish this in tricked out vehicles. It was a nice change of pace and an interesting turn for the characters. I am a sucker for superspy film tropes, so I am not complaining.
The introduction of the villainous Shaw was good. He was a great threat in the film. Cold and calculating and dangerous without being obviously violent. He was dangerous. He and his team were just as capable as Dom (Vin Diesel) and his crew but morally opposite in every way.
Like any good villain in a superspy movie, he has all his bases covered. He is one step ahead of the good guys for the bulk of the story. Maybe one step too many. He has people EVERYWHERE to an extent that feels too far even in a film that forgets physics and occasionally logic. When the writers hit a roadblock, they placed in a Shaw agent rather than thinking it through further. This is most prominent in the turn of Hobbs’s DDS partner Riley Hicks (Gina Carano). She was doing a fantastic job of helping Dom and his team pursue Shaw with no hint of being a traitor and then she turns at the NATO base and literally walks off with Shaw.
That aside, Shaw’s plan is quite diabolical. He is stealing the components to build a weapon that is capable of blacking out the electronics of any country for at least 24 hours. I miss movies with superweapons. I am talking about normal people developing these world conquering devices or plots. Superhero movies are replete with this but at one time, mostly in the all but dormant superspy genre, it was not solely their purview.
We do not get too much into his crew other than their general purpose or physical appearance. As highlighted by Roman (Tyrese Gibson) they are the antithesis of the heroes. Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) as the most skilled driver and Klaus (Kim Kold) as the muscle are the most clearly defined with Adolfson (Benjamin Davies), Jah (Joe Taslim), Ivory (David Ajala), Vegh (Clara Paget), and Firuz (Thure Lindhardt) filling out more vague positions that got some definition as needed to advance the story.
The main thrust of the film is Dom’s need to get Letty back. Hobbs tracks Dom down where he has been hiding out since the events of the last film and presents him with proof Letty is alive and the situation and his need of their help. Brian (Paul Walker) put her in danger and got her presumably killed but his role is more to support his bro. His only real point of fixing his wrong is when he reaches out to Stasiak (Shea Whigham) in order to slip into prison long enough to speak to the incarcerated Braga (John Ortiz) who is obviously connected to Shaw since Letty died while investigating Braga but is alive and well and working with Shaw.
Vin Diesel channels Xander Cage more than Dominic Toretto here. He is doing things that feel as if they belong in xXx and not an FF film. Then again this film was departing the previous films’ formula further. They made him too superhuman rather than keep him as a man doing amazing things.
This film also famously brought the timeline of the post Tokyo Drift films almost up to the present by adding a twist to the death of the character of Han. I would have loved to see a film featuring Han and Gisele by themselves. I think it would have been great fun. They worked well together. There was some real chemistry there. They would have made a very cool and entertaining action couple. And her sacrifice at the end to save Han was heartbreaking. That was in my opinion powerful.
Furious 6 also solidified the featured cast for the next films. Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, and Tyrese Gibson were all firmly ensconced in the narrative of the series and just could not drop out of the following films without leaving a big narrative hole. We have a set group of core characters, a team, with individuals that cannot be easily traded out and actors that could not be replaced.
We got fantastic action in Furious 6. They keep upping things all the way to the end. We have the car battle in London, the scene involving the Spanish NATO base and a tank on a highway, and the ending with a climactic fight involving a moving Antonov An-124 which is just a huge beast of an airplane. That scene was reportedly conceived of by director Justin Lin during production of Fast & Furious, but he could not find a way to fit it in there or in Furious Five. And thank God for that! It was the perfect action cap to the film.
Furious 6 is not a deep film. Nor is it meant to be. Not every action film or film in general needs to be sophisticated or complicated. Sometimes a good fun ride is all you really need, and this is exactly that. It is mindless action and excitement and some escapist fun. Two somewhat opposing forces are forced to work together to stop a greater threat and in the end of all the good guys win.
Furious 6 is a fun action thriller. So long as you do not think about physics too much, you will be fine. Watch it!