‘I’ ON CULTURE
That new film Fast & Furious 6 is almost Shakespearean in its subtlety and use of brilliant performances. Um, no, forget that. If you’ve ever seen one of these films, you know there are lots of incredible stunts, usually involving cars challenging the laws of physics while the characters (in most cases, we can’t really call them actors) speak wooden dialogue. But this film is one of the best of that genre. There is just enough plot, silly as it is, to carry the audience along. I snickered at some of the lines, and much of the plot had holes that you could drive a whole fleet of wrecked cars through, but I enjoyed it. My usual meter for boring movies, checking my watch for the time, never came up.
The story is a bit of nonsense, helped along if you’ve seen previous installments, although it was not too difficult to work everything out. The bad guys, led by a crook named Shaw (Luke Evans) carry out a complex series of hijackings that involve both high technology and insane driving. Tough federal agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) tells his new assistant, Riley (Gina Carano), that he needs “wolves to catch wolves.”
That means he goes to the Canary Islands, where Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) is sharing a home with hot Brazilian Elena (Elsa Pataky). For those interested in that kind of thing, all the women in the movie are beautiful. Beautiful but very tough. Dom is now hanging out with his chief rival Brian (Paul Walker), who has married Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and has a child with her, so now is a brother-in-law. Hobbs, who has had a history with Dom, offers U.S. pardons to the group if they help with the bad guys, but the real incentive is a picture of Dom’s “old lady” Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who is somehow back from the dead. At any rate, the old group gets together and finds out that the bad guys are a group of very tough mercenaries who are a kind of twisted mirror image of themselves.
The battles go on through London and Spain. Lots of guns, lots of car races, not much intelligent plotting, but who cares? The scenery is great; there are lots of gun battles as well as hand-to-hand combat. Point for feminists: All the women fight, and they are tough. Of course, both Hobbs and Dom wind up fighting guys who are even bigger and tougher. Battling, they use their heads — not to think, but to batter the other guys. There is also a tank in the middle of the cars, and it works well as a plot point.
Discussing acting in this kind of movie is like explaining purple to someone blind from birth — forget it. A few actually look like they’re doing much with their parts. Evans is a reasonably interesting villain. Rodriguez is pretty good in her part; what would we do in plots like these if amnesia didn’t exist? Tyrese Gibson is funny playing a brainless friend. The best acting job comes from singer Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as the tech specialist. He handles dry humor very well. Johnson does have charisma, but his delivery is leaden. He actually makes Diesel’s monotone seem Shakespearean. Happily, both have limited dialogue… although there is a lot of grunting.
Dom has a very strong moral code. There are constant references to “family” along the way. It works rather well as the writers (there were actually writers, but I omit their names… and they probably would thank me) even create a scene in which Dom and Shaw actually meet to discuss their respective beliefs. That a bad guy trying to kill the good one, while the good one wants to put him away, would casually meet is beyond belief, but it does emphasize the good-guy approach. The group will do anything to protect each other.
If you like this kind of movie, go see it. In a way, it is a relief from even the most recent blockbusters. Tony Stark in Ironman3 went through his moral crisis in the middle of the special effects. Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby died, as did all the major characters unless they were upper-class, while emoting through the 3-D special sets, and Star Trek had its usual morality discussions in between special effects. Here you just have car chases, a lot of fighting, some attempted humor.
This is not a great movie; it barely makes it into the good movie category. But it is good mindless entertainment.