Movie Review: Fast & Furious 6- A Consistent and Idiotic Continutation of the Franchise that Boasts Typical Adrenaline Infused Action and Stodgy Dialogue

fast-and-furious-6-is-as-one-character-warns-vehicular-warfareA key aspect in achieving success in the entertainment industry, at least in terms of obtaining a dedicated audience following, is keeping a strong sense of what defines your product’s particular genre or style and confidently presenting its strengths in full force but also accepting the weaknesses presented in self-aware jest. Ever since director Justin Lin took over the Fast and Furious franchise the series has taken the route of self-aware confidence where it has embraced its strengths for nonsensical, physics defying action as well as the weakness for having leaden dialogue coming from expressionless characters and fans have been thankful for the consistency. Fast Five might have been the franchise’s peak because of its tongue and cheek attitude towards its Looney Tunes environment of unrestrained adrenaline and exaggerated stunts making it difficult for any continuing sequel to match it unless the creators upgraded the storytelling parts of this clumsily custom built machine. The latest in the Fast & Furious series, eloquently named Fast & Furious 6, remains consistent to fan expectations with its fondness for stunt driven spectacle yet it exists in a plot that thinks it’s far superior than it is in reality, showcasing screenwriter Chris Morgan’s wrongful assumption that more dramatic breathing room between implausible action sequences gives your writing more credibility. There is an existential quandary that lives within Fast & Furious 6 as an attempt at seriousness, either in the renewed relationships or predictable plot twists, in an environment of ridiculousness practically derails this speeding vehicle from its intention on being unadulterated fun. On face and in execution the Fast & Furious films are reminiscent of experiencing a live action version of an anime cartoon (a point of view a friend of mine has reinforced) with its cartoonish embellishment of its physical environment but with far dumber plotlines and exceedingly bland dialogue so when there’s less of the latter it’s for the better. As guilty pleasures go there are few as technically executed as the Fast & Furious franchise and though the sixth installment showcases some of the series dumbest dialogue exchanges through purely rigid performances it remains a consistent entertainment outlet for those who have been initially conned by the fast and furious appeal.

It’s sort of cute in a misguided way that screenwriter Chris Morgan would even attempt to complicate his script with items like characters attempting to express emotion, explanation of exposition as though we care, or unnecessary twists reminiscent of a bad crime drama television episode. This franchise would be served better if was just an hour plus long music video filled to the brim with stunts, scantily clad women, and prominent tough guy bravado without the ruin of pesky dialogue or plot to get in the way. Fast & Furious 6 follows the events that occurred in Fast Five where the gang led by racer heist artist Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and partner ex-cop turned criminal Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) have all settled down after their $100 million heist in Rio De Janeiro. Unfortunately there is never rest for the wicked especially after Toretto is approached in desperation by agent Hobbes (Dwayne Johnson) to aid in the capture of a racing criminal named Shaw (Luke Evans) with a flimsy promise that Toretto’s presumed dead girlfriend Letty is still alive (clearly anything can happen in this series). The details in the plot from drug dealers, billion dollar techno-gear, or memory loss really are just forced excuses to propel this speeding vehicle forward so it’s actually a detriment to the film when there is far more breathing room between action sequences this time around. Morgan might be mistaking the success of the series with the supposed quality of his writing but no one sees the film for his tacky dialogue exchanges that are highlighted with physical attribute insults. The Fast & Furious storylines have always given Roland Emmerich films some competition in the “it could have been written by a six year old” department and Fast & Furious 6 is indeed one of its pioneering examples of simpleton writing with flimsy setups for ridiculous action segments featuring speeding tanks, gravity defying leaps, and the longest air runway in history. But stunt coordination and cartoonish action sequences are where director Justin Lin thrives as he utilizes cars and people the way John Woo utilized guns and bullets.

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Director Justin Lin has taken an appreciation for the unlimited scope of movie magic as he orchestrates numerous stunts and spectacles that are enjoyably intense a majority of the time but are constantly defying the laws of our known physical universe, such as friction, gravity, and mass differential. The exaggerated physical nature of his created world seems more appropriate for the world of anime where disbelief is easier to demand from your audience. A suspension of belief is definitely required in this universe especially in the final scene where all the action takes place on an airstrip that lives in the infinite as it conveniently keeps going, and going, and going. Though the Fast & Furious franchise might have the influence of “Initial D,” a racing style anime, the only comparison it warrants is in its action spectacle and not in its lack of inventive storytelling, which is a strong quality found in a majority of anime comics, cartoons, and adaptations. There is no other way to interpret the hyperbolic dialogue, the distracting side humor, or outlandish sequences, such as Vin Diesel launching himself across a precipice to catch another human being from death, as anything but a cartoon (a poorly conceived one at that). One of Fast & Furious 6’s more positive features is its dedication to using physical stunts, either with people or cars, since it seems to be an art form that’s dying off in the CGI digital age. Unfortunately there is an inconsistency in the spectacle’s quality since some of the groundwork fights are captured with a Paul Greengrass inspired chaotic steady cam while most of the driving work is completely comprehensible leaving behind a rough ride through its erratic gear changes. Anytime the film drifts away from the safety of adrenaline infused action into the areas that really matter in life, such as human connection, humor, or drama, Justin Lin demonstrates he is more comfortable with machines than he is with people. Luckily for him his entire cast is filled with robotic interpretations and overemphasized caricatures of human beings giving his live action cartoon some exceptionally appropriate complimentary performances.

A majority of the performance problems that exist within the Fast & Furious universe stem directly from the disconnected collaboration between Chris Morgan’s poor writing and Justin Lin’s inability to reflect actual human beings in his direction. However, that would then leave the immensely terrible Vin Diesel off the hook from his barely passable cruise control performance that features such fine attributes as incoherent mumbling, catatonic stares, and the occasional outburst of energy throwing a punch. Diesel is infinitely lucky that this franchise exists for the sole purpose of providing him a living paycheck because his lack of personality and definite lack of acting chops couldn’t pass the bare minimum of expectation in practically any other film environment. His weaknesses become ever more apparent when placed next to the domineering charisma of Dwayne Johnson who comes off fitting in this action environment utilizing his experience thriving in exaggerated cartoon environments, either from professional wrestling or other action movies. The rest of the cast are essentially archetypal pawns hoisted from familiar heist films with Paul Walker filling the role as the handsome strategic mastermind, Tyrese Gibson as the comic relief, and the now four interchangeable women from Michelle Rodriguez to to Gal Gadot to Jordana Brewster to Gina Carano serving as eye candy. To be fair, most of the cast fit their statuesque roles well mixing juvenile humor with a tongue in cheek sense of amusement letting us know they’re enjoying the ride as much as their dedicated fans. Fast & Furious isn’t supposed to a demonstration of dramatic capabilities so it’s a waste of breathe to criticize the clearly deficient performances when the childish writing is the real culprit in its wasted potential. The series has benefited greatly from the mere presence of some charismatic personalities justifying the environment for fun with actors who know how to deliver obviously ridiculous dialogue with vigor, dedication, and self-aware jest.

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Describing the Fast & Furious franchise as a live action interpretation of exaggerated cartoon environments is definitely giving it the creative benefit of the doubt but most of its physics denying sequences, amplified characters, and over pronounced dialogue can only exist in the realm of animation. Unfortunately the writing from screenwriter Chris Morgan doesn’t compliment the creativity that animation is more than capable of delivering making Fast & Furious 6 one of the weakest installments of the adrenaline injected series. Though director Justin Lin executes some intense action sequences there was a misguided attempt in adding more dramatic breathing room in between them and it weighs down the amusement of the picture considerably. Dedicated fans of the guiltiest of guilty pleasures franchise will definitely find much to enjoy in the ridiculously unbelievable stunts and cartoonish performances despite the fact that Fast & Furious 6 showcases the series’ most strained dialogue and uninventive plot choices. It would have been better if this latest chapter in the franchise that seems never ending would have been as tongue in cheek and self-aware as Fast Five but unfortunately this time around screenwriter Chris Morgan and director Justin Lin took themselves and their laughable material a little too seriously.

Grade: C-

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