‘Fast & Furious 6’ (2013); a masterclass in escapism.

2 Jun

Fast 6 posterA long-established and steadily improving series about explosions, impossible car chases, scantily-clad women, extended kung-fu sequences and general mindless action – what could it possibly be missing? The answer: Dwayne Johnson, of course. The Rock is the latest edition to the Fast & Furious lineup, who in this sixth instalment of the seemingly-immortal franchise joins regular faces Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and company in an effort to uncover the evildoers behind a recent attack on a Russian military convoy. In doing so, familiar faces are found, while others may not be as trustworthy as they may seem.

But that’s plot, which is definitely not the focus of this film. Bare minimum backstory, inexplicable new characters. nonsensical plot twists and obvious telegraphing of future events are all proof of this complete disregard for any deftness in approach to story. The dialogue doesn’t fare much better: the bulk of what comes out of their mouths is laughably terrible (the repeated mantra of ‘we’re a FAMILY, and FAMILY is important’ is as annoying as it sounds), and should cause a substantial amount of squirming in the aisles. So why should anyone go see this

The Fast & Furious crew are basically The Avengers of dumb action movies. Think about it; they’re a ragtag bunch of misfits, from a politically correct array of ethnic and social backgrounds, who must band together for the common good of the world at large. Their individual strengths fuse into an incredibly potent power; but instead of Norse demigods or green monstrosities we’re instead treated to a group of dudes (and a lady or two) who can drive cars really well. Actually, that’s not a fair appraisal of their worth… They can also drive motorbikes really well.

"Yeah, I'm a giant bald guy too. WHAT YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT, MOTHERFUCKER!?"

“Yeah, I’m a giant bald guy too. WHAT YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT, MOTHERFUCKER!?”

People may wonder what separates a film like Fast & Furious from some other, universally-panned ‘dumb’ action movies such as the Transformers series. There are good movies like this, and then there are bad ones, and the distinction is often based on levels of self-awareness. Transformers is this massively over-the-top production that tries to weave as much illogical story, hammy dialogue and, most notoriously, product placement (grr!) into its big dumb self as possible, but in doing so it ultimately takes away from the overall enjoyment.

Fast & Furious, on the other hand, knows it’s a big dumb action movie, accepts this reality and brazenly revels in its own lack of sense. While previous efforts had an on-off relationship with ‘realism’, director Justin Lin decided around the time of Fast Five that his films are now essentially live-action Looney Tunes episodes. Vin Diesel’s stunning feats of survival bring to mind Wile E. Coyote emerging from the dust clouds of 10o-ft falls, romantic lines make Pepé Le Pew sound like Shakespeare, and Dwayne Johnson may as well be using a giant comedy mallet á la Bugs Bunny when fighting his hilariously buff evil twin.

If you require something a bit more ‘highbrow’, then Fast 6 might not be the film for you. But swimming as we are in a sea of dumb action movies, this series continues to be an unbridled and unmatchable mode of escapism… And this one has a tank!

Simon says: The Avengers on Wheels.

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