6 Fast 6 Furious…or Furious 6…or Faster 6 Furiouser or whatever it’s called (2013) – Justin Lin (Dir.), Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Ludicris, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne “Samoan Thor” Johnson, Sung Kang, Luke Evans, Gal Gadot, Gina Carano
Guys…I’m not sure what happened. What began as a joking suggestion to waltz into the sixth installment of a series that I would rather encounter less than a bout of super-herpes, ended with me walking, nay, stumbling from the theater, falling to my knees and crying to the heavens, “WHY? WHY DID YOU NOT TELL ME ABOUT THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS? WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” (I was, of course, talking directly to Roger Ebert, duh). I would have put my face in my hands if it hadn’t already been melted off by Justin Lin’s fatality of a blockbuster. Like that guy who claimed he had gotten to third base because a girl had fainted on him breasts-first, I was basically a virgin when it came to this…I can’t even call it a ‘franchise’. Words fail me when describing what this series of films represents. It is no mere set of cheap cashings-in on some out-played formula. I mean, it is…but it is also so much more than that. It is not an epic, but rather a saga, a creation myth for, what one brilliant writer at Grantland termed, the ‘Fast & Furi-verse’. It is a beautiful and complex realm. A land of beautiful vehicles speeding recklessly through foreign cities with impunity while their mildly invincible meat puppets at the wheel communicate only in punches to the face and bullets to the chest. This is a world without logic as we know it. A world where the laws of physics are merely a suggestion. A world where runways can be thirty miles long to allow for a 20 minute finale. A world where the otherwise absurd concept of racing thieves isn’t just a possibility but an active scourge on the legal landscape. This, ladies and gentlemen, is where magic is born. And by magic, I mean Vin Diesel.
I had little to no understanding of the series before taking my seat. I had seen snippets of the first movie and, with the rest of the footage I have had incessantly burned onto my frontal lobe from every HD ad for DVDs ever, I managed to piece it together. However, there were 4 more fucking movies after that. Do you know what that means? Lord of the Rings happened in 3 movies. Imagine what could happen in 4! Well, apparently, not that much. From what I gathered in the “Previously on the only thing on Paul Walker’s Resume”, a bunch of shit went down in the last movies. However, because Lin’s throbbing techno soundtrack played in the place of actual audio, the plot round-up seemed more like an NYU experimental film just with very pretty people.
Basically, we have Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel), a man who both simultaneously gives enough fucks that he will do anything for his friends and so few fucks that he will RAM HIS SPEEDING CAR INTO A WALL TO PROPEL HIMSELF OVER A RAVINE TO CATCH SOMEONE HURTLING FROM A FLIPPING TANK…IN SLOW MOTION (true story), is chilling in the Canary Islands with newly-fathered and Chris-Pine-if-he-were-homeless Paul Walker when The Rock shows up to ask for his help in taking down an international crime lord. The twist is? The crime lord uses CARS. Because, in this universe, caltrops and tire traps don’t exist. Of course, Dom and his super rich pals (I guess they robbed a place in the previous movie and became exceedingly rich) are hypnotized by a picture of Michelle Rodriguez. Now, I like Rodriguez just fine. She basically eats badass for breakfast and regurgitates it on the cinema audience like a mother returning to her chicks. I don’t understand getting yourself caught in a massive crime scheme because of a grainy photo. I guess she ‘died’ in a previous movie so they were ‘shocked’ she was still ‘alive’. What the fuck ever.
THE POINT IS: There are multiple bags of flesh flapping multiple mouths. Some of them are people and some of them are Tyrese “I’m Pretty Sure He’s a Robot That Wasn’t Wired Right” Gibson. But this is all blah-blah-blah until someone gets punched or someone gets into a moving vehicle of some kind. Our director Justin Lin understands this well. Thusly, there is nary a scene of this film where a gun is not discharged or a person is punched in the moneymaker (and seeing as the entire cast is populated by models, both male and female, it’s absolutely an accurate term). But then the cars start and suddenly every member of the cast becomes invincible. It doesn’t matter if a car flips or smashes in half or gets crushed by a tank, as long as you are inside the car, in this Furi-verse, you are deemed worthy of life and safe from harm. The second you get out…well, that’s another story. In terms of the ‘scenes’ between car-gasms, I believe I counted almost ten that began with an explicit act of violence. It’s a purer form of communication in this world.
Finally, we come to the action. Oh the action. It is difficult to describe the feeling one gets when witnessing a high speed chase through Picadilly Circus, or a fist fight between Michelle “Midwife of Badassery” Rodriguez and Gina “I Am Literally Trained To Fucking Kill You” Carano in the London tube, or the aforementioned aerial/auto acrobatics of one Vin “His Last Name Isn’t Ironic In the Least” Diesel. It might be that sense of glee a young Andrew might find while awaking at five am on Christmas morning, rushing downstairs and discovering a tree surrounded by presents. Except, instead of presents, it’s the fucking Rock with his neck increasing in size every day and biceps comparable to damn jackhammers. Every set piece is captivating and pulse-pounding from beginning to end. And, seeing as it is quickly defined that every character in this universe has as much to fear from physical harm as Superman, watching the flesh marionettes beat the ever-loving shit out of each other takes on a zen-like joy. I mean, watching Diesel get a face full of roundhouse kick, you can finally sense that there is some order to the universe. THAT IS HOW LIFE-CHANGING THIS MOVIE IS. Also, Ludracris playing, I guess, a stoned super-computer-genius garden gnome uses the phrase: “We need more alphabets!” Yet. This is pure, uncut, Colombian amazingness.
And it, I am sure, is all thanks to Justin Lin. He is the director of this batshit menagerie. Mr. Lin was, I believe, brought on to direct the dark horse of the series, 3 Fast 3 Furious: Something About Tokyo (or something) and, since then, has cornered the market on ridiculous sequel names since. I, however, know Justin Lin as the man who delivered the genius ‘paintball’ episodes of the harshly underrated TV show, Community. This is a man who knows his humor and so, when Tyrese delivers yet another of his bland, misogynistic, cowardly one-liners, you don’t roll your eyes, but laugh. All attempts at intentional humor are almost intentionally humorously humorless. The lack of funny in the quip is exactly what makes it hilarious. It’s a moebius joke. An inside-out jest. An ouroboros chortle. His understanding of action is so precise, perfect and complete that you never once fear that your hopes will fail you. The ordeal is so beautifully paced that you never get bored. I mean, yes, I started looking at my phone when the meat muppets began yapping, but I could always assume there were only a few seconds before someone felt some facial malefaction by way of a fist to the nasal region. It could have been due to the writers, though it’s seriously doubtful. Most the lines dribbling from The Rock’s mouth had about as much gravity as a fucking M&M on a diet. There is literally a moment when the crew, who is currently in London, discovers that Luke “Zeus” Evans and his bad guy team are in Spain and Diesel says “That means they’re in another country!” Do you really have so little faith that your audience has so meager an understanding of European geography that you have to…oh wait, someone’s about to get punched again!
Now, I am keenly aware of my rather pretentious leanings when it comes to my flavor of cinema. Only a few days ago, I took Star Trek into Darkness to task for almost exactly the same things for which I laud this movie. And, yes, this might be hypocritical. But there is so much more going on. This series is brilliant. I don’t mean ‘brilliant’ in the sense of Beasts of the Southern Wild. No, even with its predilections for it’s heavy-handed ‘FAMILY IS FOREVER’ themes, it’s about as thematically deep an ant’s paddling pool. Its complexity comes from pure scope. Upon our exit from the movie, my friend Ben regaled me on the finer points of the Furi-verse’s chronology. Turns out, movie 3 takes place after all of the others. Due to the fact that they enjoyed the totally awesome character of Han so much, they decided to make the next 3 movies in the franchise his origin story, which finally culminates at the end of 6 with a brilliantly ret-conned cameo paving the way for movie 7, which will no doubt be titled 7 Fast 7 Fur7ouslier. It’s as intricate a world as anything Marvel can pump out. Yes, it’s fluff. It’s mental meltdown of the purest kind. But it has no pretension towards anything else. Lin keeps you on the edge of your seats, not because you’re afraid the good guys might lose or that anyone will get ‘hurt’, but because LOOK AT THE ROCK’S BICEPS, WHY HASN’T HE FOUGHT ANYONE YET? I BET WHEN HE DOES IT WILL BE AMAZEBALLS. Sure enough, it is. Both he and Carano shift through the film like springs wound to their tensile limit, ready to fucking explode. When they finally do, you will not be disappointed.
This is not good cinema. This is an anomaly. If I had seen something half as stupid, I might have condemned it to the lowest ring of hell. But not this. There is a level of passion and love that is coursing through this franchise’s veins that could rival any great film. It truly cares about its characters. I mean, how rare is it that I would remember any of the characters’ names in a bullshit fest like this? It never happens. You know what? For two hours, I forgot that I once suffered through The Chronicles of Riddick while bedridden with the flu and, for the first time in years, I actually rooted for Vin Diesel to not get his face caught in a weedwacker. Do you know how significant that is to me? Life-changing. Nothing but.
However, I then left the theater and saw a poster for the next Riddick movie and my bloodlust was ignited once more. Fuck that guy. Oh well.