By Kylie Wong (14A01B) and Angelica Chong (14A01B)
Fast cars. Super villains. High-speed car chases.
Fast Six delivers all that is synonymous with the franchise’s brand name, yet still manages to disappoint. The sixth installment of the Fast & Furious series is also the last under the helm of director Justin Lin, and fortunately as well, for in his bid to continuously top each previous film, Lin has chosen to forsake plausible characterization and intricate plots for over-the-top action and soap opera drama.
Part Ocean’s movie, part WWE showdown, Fast Six is nearly identical to its predecessor, except it lacks all the sharpness and ambition Fast Five possessed. Following the successful heist in Rio, the crew is reunited under the direction of federal agent Hobbs to combat the threat of special ops rogue Owen Shaw. In a bid to move away from underground street racing (which the producers felt placed a barrier on audience numbers), Fast Six focuses on vehicular warfare – tanks, planes, flip cars that resemble F1 prototypes…Fast Six has it all. With London as the setting, the movie moves at blinding speed with a drag race through Picadilly Circus and violent subway brawls. The action culminates in a multi-fight highway showdown which involves an army tank, and in a final bid to keep Shaw from escaping, a battle between horsepower and turbine engines as the crew tries to drag down a plane with the use of their cars. If Lin was aiming to awe the audiences with death-defying stunts and grand explosions, he has certainly achieved his goal.
Throughout the six films, Toretto has steadfastly stuck to his ‘we are family’ ethos – there is little change in his characterization, and even his outfit has made minimal transition: from the white wife beater to the black wife beater and back. Despite this, there is something strangely endearing about his stubborn insistence on loyalty – “We don’t turn our back on family, even when they do”– the very aptly named Vin Diesel was born to play the role, and it is a thrill to watch him banter with Dwayne Johnson’s character Hobbs. The rest of the crew operates like a well-oiled machine with an effortless chemistry amongst the cast – a pity that their roles in this film have been relegated to little more than caricatures with predictable lines and forced comedy that soon grows tiresome.
Despite the shift in focus towards vehicular warfare, Fast Six still offers fans the chance to salivate over the cars used in the film. Most of the cars featured in the franchise have been modified American muscle cars or Japanese tuner cars but with London as the setting of FF6, the spotlight was placed on old- school European muscle cars like the 1971 Jensen Interceptor and 1970 Ford Escort. 400 cars were totaled in the making of the movie – the highest in the 12-year history of the franchise. The highway sequence alone destroyed 250 cars.
Fans expecting more from Fast Six may well be disappointed – Lin has been successful in making the movie mainstream (as evidenced by the profits it is raking in as well as rave reviews from film critics), but in doing so he may have cast aside the franchise’s loyal fans. For those simply looking for an enjoyable two hours of visceral thrills and roaring explosions though – this movie is just for you.