How many films NOT starring James Bond consistently perform better at the box office as they get made? Hint: not The Hangover.
Living in a non-extradition country, the Fast and Furious crew is enjoying the $100 million+ stolen in Rio after the fifth film. They have cash enough to do whatever they like… except go home again. Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) offers a deal to Dom (Vin Diesel) that will earn full pardons for the entire crew, but the evidence that Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is somehow still alive provides the actual bait. Faster than you can lift the plot elements of Police Academy 6: City Under Siege, the crew goes up against their evil twins – in-film joke, just go with it – with the fate of Letty, the free world, and future franchise ticket sales hanging in the balance.
If this film franchise isn’t one of your guilty pleasures, why not? Hot guys, cool gals, fast cars, fights, guns, explosions, and none of it taken too seriously. Heck, no one even stays dead very long; you’d think it was written by Marvel Comics. Wait, that’s wrong: the female character came back to life, so never mind. In any case, the entire film is written loose and fast, mixing danger and humor into the perfect popcorn movie. Even the studio gets it; the seventh film was greenlit and put into pre-production before this installment even opened.
One reason to be a fan of this franchise is the “Indiana Jones factor” – stay with me on this. One thing that ruined Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was the fact that the main characters seemed to realize in-film that, as the heroes, they could absolutely do whatever they wanted to; at the same time, they ultimately didn’t do a damn thing. Yet go back to the original three Indy films: Harrison Ford is about to die, looks terrified and/or determined, saves himself or someone else at the last minute, cue fanfare and repeat… and gets his hat back. The Fast and Furious films play in this arena and fortunately haven’t ruined it; the crew get into cars, everything goes wrong, cut to inside shot of looking terrified and/or determined, saves themselves or someone else at the last minute, cue techno and repeat… and a racer gets their bling back. The exception is having enough minor parts to kill a character off once in a while so those who remain can hug, drink, and have a memorial cookout at the end of the flick. Hey, it’s important, okay?
By the way, the world’s longest runway is just over three miles long and can be covered by a slow-moving aircraft in less than three minutes… unless you have bad guys to beat up and stunts to perform. Just an FYI.
This film cleanly brings everything full circle, including a hint as to how Han (he appeared to have died in the third film Tokyo Drift before reappearing unharmed in a later film with no explanation) managed to come back to life, suggesting that the films are slightly out of order. A few moments into what you think are the credits actually goes back to Tokyo and Han’s final minutes, and that’s when the twist/cameo occurs that sets up the inevitable sequel. And lest we forget: “All stunts in this film are preformed by professionals in controlled conditions and shouldn’t be repeated or attempted by anyone, ever.” So, anyone know where to get a tank?
(a three skull recommendation out of four)