Welcome to Summer, and the popcorn movies that entails. Fast and Furious 6 is the very definition of a summer popcorn movie.
In 2001, Rob Cohen directed a movie called The Fast and The Furious. It was the simple story of an undercover cop infiltrating the underworld of Los Angles street racers. He then becomes friends with the racers, falls for one of them, and questions his loyalties when they get closer to getting busted.
The movie was fun, simple, and re-introduced the world to Vin Diesel, who had previously owned Pitch Black (go watch that again, it’s so good). We met the characters of O’Conner (Walker), Dominic Toretto (Diesel), Dom’s sister Mia (Jordanna Brewster), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), and Vince (Matt Schulze). Rick Yune played Johnny Tran, and there was a cameo by Ja Rule. The movie was a quick hit, easily made back what it cost, and launched a huge franchise. 2003 brought 2 Fast 2 Furious to the screen, and O’Conner moved to Miami, still undercover and partnered up with Roman (Tyrese) a fast-talking racer.
They teamed up with Tej (Ludacris), and Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes), another undercover agent, to take down Cuban bad guy Carter Verone (played by Diesel’s Pitch Black co-star Cole Hauser, the least Cuban man alive). In 2006 we got The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, an odd entry into the series, set in the ‘distant future’.
Alabama teenager Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) gets caught up in ‘drifting’ street racing after moving in with his father in Tokyo. Since this one is slightly out of the chronology, the only key character is Han, played by Sung Kang – who (spoilers) dies in a massive crash while drifting in this movie. Diesel’s character, Dom, shows up at the very end. In 2009 Justin Lin took over directing the series and brought back Diesel, Rodriguez, Walker, and Brewster.
O’Conner is now working for the FBI in LA, and he has to team up with Dom to help bring down a Mexican drug cartel. Letty was helping O’Conner undercover and gets killed by the cartel, so Dom and O’Conner race fast cars over the border. New characters in this one include the cartel bad guy Campos (John Ortiz), the turncoat Gisele (Gal Gadot), Agent Stasiak (Shea Whigham), Tego and Don Omar. Surprise – Han shows up not dead, so clearly this movie takes place prior to Tokyo Drift. 2011 brings us to Fast Five, by this time Justin Lin had realized exactly what this franchise is. It never pretends to be anything other than it is – a big, loud, fast, stupid, entertaining-as-hell fun movie.
In this one, the plot gets even more crazy (ludicrous?) as the crew head to Brazil to pull one last huge heist to set them all free. O’Conner and Mia are now completely together, and she’s pregnant. Dom’s still mourning Letty, and they encounter Vince again. In order to pull of the heist, calls go out to everyone: Roman (Tyrese), Tej (Ludacris), Han (Sung Kang), Gisele (Gal Gadot), Tego and Don (Tego and Rico). They encounter Reyes (Joaquim del Almeida), the drug lord who owns Rio. We are introduced to Hobbs (Dwayne “Rock” Johnson) as the no-stop agent out to bring down this crew, and Elena (Elsa Pataky) as the only honest cop in Rio who partners up with Hobbs. Han and Gisele get closer in this one, building a relationship. The movie ends with Hobbs teaming up with the crew to take down Reyes, and Hobbs letting the crew take off with millions of dollars. There is a fantastic post-credits sequence where Eva Mendes’s character shows up again to walk into Hobb’s office, and state there is a new threat out there. She puts a picture of the crew on the desk, and it’s revealed to be Letty – despite her having been killed two movies ago!
That brings us up to date, and Justin Lin’s final (he says) entry to the franchise: Furious 6. This time, Hobbs is chasing international arms dealer Shaw (Luke Evans), with his new partner Riley (Gina Carano). He decides that in order to catch Shaw’s evil crew (which contains Letty), he needs Dom and his crew. So he drops in at Dom’s palatial Spanish estate where Dom is living happily with Elena visiting Mia, O’Conner, and his new baby nephew down the street. They’ve given up on their life of crime, because nothing is more important than family (you won’t miss this as the theme of the movie, because it is mentioned over and over again). Hobbs shows Dom the picture of Letty, and because nothing is more important than family, he decides he has to go after her. Elena, apparently the world’s most understanding woman, tells him he has to go. Dom drops by his sister’s place, and O’Conner, still feeling guilty that Letty was helping him out when she died, agrees to help as well.
Dom assembles the crew again, and they meet up in London to check out the rival crew. There is even a hilarious moment where Roman (the overt comedy relief in this one since Tego and Don are not around) points out that Shaw’s crew is basically the evil-twin version of their own crew. I would explain the plot further, but it’s not really necessary. Shaw wants to steal a thing, in order to sell a really destructive weapon. Dom wants to stop him, but also get Letty back (she has amnesia). In between these two opposing viewpoints, there are a lot of crazy action sequences. Some of the best action sequences I’ve seen in a long time, in fact. There is the scene with the tank that is in all the trailers. There is the sequence with the plane. There’s a street race around London, there are several incredible (and I mean incredible) hand to hand combat scenes.
Now – without spoiling anything – the post credit sequence where Letty was revealed to be alive was the best part of 5, and the post credit sequence in this one is better than that! I can tell you that Han at last heads to Tokyo, so it would seem that the correct chronological list goes: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 3, and then 7. Yes, 7 has been greenlit and will be released in a few years. I cannot wait.Castwise, do I need to break it down?
· Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto owns this movie. He gravelly voices that family is incredibly important all the way through this movie. He does a great job, and is fantastic.
· Paul Walker again plays Brian O’Conner, not a law enforcement officer of any kind in this movie. He and Jordanna Brewster, back as Mia, now have a baby so he’s focused on family.
· Michelle Rodriguez plays amnesiac Letty – and here’s an odd thing, she never gets her memory back through the whole movie, but Dom does win her back over, because nothing is more important than family.
· Tyrese is really fun as Roman and has a great time in this movie. This movie is so worried about boring you that during the one exposition scene, Tyrese diverts your attention by trying to get some snacks from Han, then from a vending machine.
· Sung Kang as Han is really the soul of this movie. He’s fantastic, fun, and is eating the entire time. I mean constantly. So much so that when Tyrese does ask him for snacks, his bag is empty, because he has finished it. He is much closer to Gal Gadot’s Gisele in this movie, and the two of them are making plans to settle down together (in Tokyo – see where this is going?) because after all, family is the most important thing.
· Chris “Ludacris” Bridges plays tech wizard Tej again. He’s fun and entertaining, and the jokes back and forth between he and Tyrese are great.
· Elsa Pataky as Elena gets very little to do in this one, she does again, graciously give Dom up at the end so that he can be with Letty (who again, still has amnesia). She goes off with Hobbs to solve more international crimes?
· MMA star Gina Carano is great as Rock’s new partner Riley. She’s no nonsense, and seriously the fight(s) between her and Rodriguez are incredible.
· Luke Evans joins the cast as Shaw, and is serviceable as an international villain. He's sufficiently threatening, and menacing, but doesn't steal the movie. Clara Paget, Kim Kold and Johannes Taslim play some of Shaw’s evil crew, and they are all pretty entertaining, but they don’t have a ton of things to do.
I have to say, one of the reasons I love this franchise is the absolute multi-ethnicity of the cast. There is so much diversity in the core cast, it’s really fantastic, and I cannot think of any other movie, much less franchise, with that much of everyone included. The females are all strong characters as well. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is still the ‘street race’ sequence in the center that is all about chicks in tiny clothes and pretty cars. But, at least in this movie, there’s only one of those objectify scenes. The first one had a lot more. The movie is fantastic and super fun. Don’t expect it to be more than it is, and it will not let you down. It is non-stop action from the start to the finish, and seriously, that post credit sequence made me want to see number 7 immediately!9 out of 10! Go see this now, and take your family, because nothing is more important than family. Gained points for the cast - love them. Lost points for the one objectify scene, meh. Gained points for the tank scene. Lost points for Shaw not having a super big end, just a casual end. Gained points for the plane sequence, but lost points for the length of that runway - come on.
Bonus Video 1: Pitch Black, again, so good.
Bonus Video 2: Transporter – another fantastic action/car movie.
Bonus Video 3: Cast Interviews: