Unlikelier Franchise: <I>The Fast and the Furious</I> or <I>Before Sunrise</I>?

05/24/2013 9:05 AM |

Fast & Furious 6

Fast & Furious 6: First all, the actual in-movie title is just Furious 6, which is nonsensical in that it makes it sound like Vin Diesel is leading a six-person team (he isn’t) or that the movie might be play on The Magnificent Seven (hell no). But it’s also perfect in that it follows series highlight Fast Five, and Furious 6 is very much a sequel to that sensibility rather than the mostly tedious cops-and-drug-dealers bullshit of the first four movies. Furious 6 isn’t quite as, well… “elegant” seems like the wrong word, but it’s not as well-balanced as Fast Five, which opened with a spectacular stunt sequence (something about stealing a car from a train, but the real mission was: save this franchise in 10 minutes!) and closed with a crazy building-smashing chase. The best sequences in the new movie are just about as good as those high points, but they’re stacked more toward the end, including a double climax that takes the more character-based smash-ups of Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness and tells them to ride or die, or something; sometimes it’s hard to understand what Diesel is mumbling.

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Benjamin Sutton considers its ideological implications (turns out this action movie about gearhead criminals justifies violence! I never!); I’d add, though, that it’s pretty damn cool to see an increasingly successful action movie franchise with a pan-racial cast where the whitest dudes have the least to do—apart from Paul Walker, who is so white he has apparently transcended traditional notions of race. And though even the now-familiar characters remain on the cipher-y side, Lin directs the human traffic almost as well as the automotive variety: Diesel fans get plenty of his burnt-coffee-grounds vocalizing, Johnson fans can see their man looking as mountainous and unstoppable as ever, Gina Carano and Michelle Rodriguez get a couple of rad fight scenes (though, really: aren’t they tough enough to fight characters, not just each other?), and even Diesel/Johnson ‘shippers get their moment in the sun. Then, after the final film-by credit, there’s a spectacular tease for the Lin-less next installment, already scheduled for July 2014. I won’t spoil it, so I’ll only say that I will probably literally dream about Fast and Furious 7 several times between now and next July.