Mark Reviews Movies

Furious 6

FURIOUS 6

2 Stars (out of 4)

Director: Justin Lin

Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Gal Gadot, Sung Kang, Luke Evans, Gina Carano, Jordana Brewster

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action and mayhem throughout, some sexuality and language)

Running Time: 2:10

Release Date: 5/24/13


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Review by Mark Dujsik | May 23, 2013

Like the other entries in the series, Furious 6, which omits the word "fast" from the title for no discernible reason (Could we please have just a little consistency in these things?), ends with a disclaimer stating that no one should attempt to recreate the various driving stunts performed in the movie. This warning, like the series itself, is now redundant. People couldn't perform these stunts even if they were ill-advised enough to attempt to do so.

Whatever universe this movie takes place in, it is not our own. The previous movies—until the last one—at least acknowledged the limitations of the laws of the physical world, but this one has no concern for such petty things. Critics are often accused of nitpicking the small details. You must forgive me if I consider the laws of physics and general logic to be a bit more than nitpicking.

The strategy here is clear, as director Justin Lin (who's now directed four of the six movies in the series) pummels us with one ludicrous action sequence after another until we really have no choice but to question our understanding of how basic things like gravity and force work. There are some solid ideas at the heart of these sequences, mostly about coming up with new ways to cause maximum vehicular carnage, and we want them to work, mostly because there is something rather entertaining in seeing such devastation when it's executed well. Sadly, their execution ranges from questionable to poor.

The story opens with a gratuitous prologue that has Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), the retired leader of a group of international thieves, and Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker), the former cop who turned criminal, racing down a cliff-side highway before arriving at a nunnery, where Mia (Jordana Brewster), Brian's wife and Dominic's sister, is about to give birth (The nuns speak Spanish, and even the subtitles, which actually slide off to the side to exit the screen, seem in a rush to keep moving). Once that happens, Dominic informs his brother-in-law, everything is going to change.

Of course, that's not true, and soon enough Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), a special agent for the U.S. State Department, tracks down Dominic, who's living the good life in a tropical country with no extradition, to help him catch Shaw (Luke Evans), another international thief who's stealing hardware to create some sort of electromagnetic pulse weapon. Dominic is hesitant until Hobbs reveals that Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), the love of Dominic's life who was presumed dead, is still alive and working with Shaw (Her convenient non-death raises more questions than her convenient amnesia). This means it's time to get the team back together: Roman (Tyrese Gibson), who's a millionaire and an expert driver, Tej (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges), who's an engineer and a skilled driver, Han (Sung Kang), an adept racer, and Gisele (Gal Gadot), who's very fine behind the wheel.

After sporadic appearances across six movies, the cast has a rapport that feels more natural this time. The characters are superfluous, anyway—merely tools and players in the movie's stunts, of which there are many. They don't only involve cars, either.

The movie's diversity of action is its strong point. There are the usual—but mostly unusual—chases, but they're interspersed with gunfights and fisticuffs, most effectively dual fights in a subway stop that pit Han and Roman against Shaw's toughest henchman and Letty against Hobbs' partner Riley (Gina Carano).

It's when the gang takes to their cars that the insanity really begins, though. The first chase turns into a duel between Dominic's posse in muscle cars and Shaw's Formula One-style car, which can drop a retractable platform in the front to flip any oncoming vehicle into the air. It's a neat, dynamic sequence that's unfortunately and fatally undermined by Lin's decision to set it against an incredibly dark backdrop of London streets and make so many rapid cuts that it's doubly incomprehensible most of the time.

The movie's centerpiece is a confrontation in which Shaw and his crew pilot a tank on a crowded bridge while Dominic and his guys try to figure out a way to stop it. The casualties in flattened cars during this sequence are so high that it's distracting, but even more curious is the way the tank fails to crush Roman's car, which just sits being pushed by the tank. Let's not even get too deep into the lack of logic for there being a tank in play in the first place (A military man wonders why the villain would steal the tank to obtain a computer chip in it; the better question is why even transport an entire tank when they only need to protect the chip).

The illogical details and noticeable impossibility of the stunts mount quickly, leading to a ridiculous chase in which the crew tries to stop a cargo plane on the longest runway that doesn't exist anywhere in the world. Furious 6 is, admittedly, better than almost every other entry in this series (It will keep going; the post-disclaimer bonus scene even reveals the next movie's villain), so maybe I'm starting to warm up to its cartoon-like interpretation of the physical world. I'm not there yet.

Copyright © 2013 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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