With a trailer promising tanks, loads more car-related shenanigans and... planes, Fast & Furious 6 certainly looked like tons of fun. And after genuinely enjoying the high-speed nonsense that was Fast Five, I was definitely looking forward to this one.
Following on the "big twist" at the end of Fast Five, Michelle Rodriguez's return, this six-quel presents us with more Dwayne Johnson/Vin Diesel bromance (they don't hate each other this time), a brand new villain played by the usually reliable Luke Evans and a Michelle Rodriguez subplot which would have probably had more impact on me had I even known that her character had died in one of those sequels I failed to catch. Her disappearance is explained away in the most hilariously soap-opera way imaginable: one flashback and, I kid you not, AMNESIA.
I can't wait until they introduce Vin Diesel's evil twin!
Most of the action this time takes place in Spain and in London and, as relentless as the latter-set action sequences are, the so-very-clearly blocked roads (you can see the barriers!) take away quite a lot of intensity from those scenes. There are also way too many of these races/chases shot at night, the stunts are incredible, when you can see them, and it's admittedly refreshing to see real cars battle it out on the road instead of CGI toys, but after 5 scenes in a row (two of which are just two people spilling out exposition to each other) in the dark, you end up craving for light! Thankfully, that much publicised tank highway sequence doesn't disappoint, it's a shame 98% of it was shown in trailers over and over prior to the film's release, but it still works: it's big, bloated, absurd, it's great. Actually, the film does as well as you'd expect it to when it decides to go as over the top as possible: you've got Vin Diesel jumping at someone head-first, wrestling with best-bud Dwayne Johnson on a plane, tanks crushing what looks like hundreds of people with no real impact, the most delightfully ridiculous plane scene since Air Force One and much, much more.
So why is Fast & Furious 6 inferior to Fast Five?
Well, for one thing, it's way too long and FEELS way too long. About as long as that endless airport runway at the end of the film, in fact. Too many characters, too much exposition, too many scenes begging to be deleted scenes on the DVD, too many inconsistencies. A lot of the film is very entertaining but a lot of it, sadly, isn't. And that's something Fast Five didn't have a problem with, that movie was crazy-fun from start to finish, I wasn't bored one second. Also, the comedy this time is hit-and-miss, some joke scenes coming off as more odd than anything else. When it's funny, it's funny, when it's not, it's just weird. A lot of the acting is worse than ever (*cough* Gal Gadot *cough), with Johnson speaking in one-liners ALL the time (pretty great tbh) and Paul Walker sleepwalking his way through the whole thing, but some of it is decent. So it's all pretty much hit-and-miss, especially when it comes to relationships between characters developing. Logic takes a backseat to car-porn when it comes to that stuff: Diesel dumping one gal for some woman who doesn't even remember him at the drop of a hat, Johnson not bitter at all about being made to look like an idiot in the last film, Sung Kang being given a subplot that never amounts to anything... the list goes on. This is one movie that could have done with about half an hour less altogether, about 6 fewer characters, better settings, a more threatening enemy (Evans' entire plan rests on a briefcase, literally) and a much sharper script.
Overall, in terms of sheer thick-as-bricks action nonsense, Fast & Furious 6 does deliver. There's enough zooms and pows to keep you entertained. Unfortunately, the film lacks the flow of previous efforts, braking to a stand-still every single time dialog occurs and struggling to gear up whenever it needs to.
It's a Fast & Furious movie, for sure, but as furious as it is, it lacks the speed and spark of Five.
Thankfully a last-minute post-credits sequence promises great things for the future ;)