Fast & Furious 6 is loud, fun, totally out there and one of the best movies this year

That’s right I said it. A bold statement when the end-of-the-year Oscar bait has not even reared it heads yet.

I do not think FURIOUS 6 will score a golden statue, this is one of the best movies of the year; not because of what we saw but because of what we are not seeing and because of what is really going on with the “Fast & Furious” saga overall that makes what we do see exponentially more important and impactful.

FURIOUS 6 takes place shortly after FAST FIVE with the crew living life from their earnings from an ingenious and destructive venture that leveled half of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with a safe full of about $100 million in drug money. Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his team are called back to not do a robbery or trafficking job, or to win a race, but to possibly save the world from a special ops soldier gone rogue that plans to activate and use a weapon of mass destruction….

Wow.  We’ve gone from bad street lingo by Paul Walker in “The Fast and the Furious” and just bad acting in “F&F: Tokyo Drift” to bringing in the likes of The Rock and reuniting the best parts of the past films to have movies shift from street racing to counterterrorism.  Talk about an upgrade, but it gets better from there.

The Fast & Furious saga (yes, SAGA. This is important film) does many things very perfectly.  First it is never assuming of what the viewer knows or is supposed to know.  The story in FURIOUS 6 calls back to the previous, the fourth, the third and the first film several times.  It that effort, it rewards its longtime audience that has hung with Toretto and team for the past 12 years and soon to be seven films.

The continuity has been adhered to with such conviction and respect when the cool thing to do is start over from scratch and begin brand new. This series “restarted” in 2009 with “Fast & Furious” set after “2 Fast 2 Furious” and revamped the direction away from racing and into crime drama/pure action films. The first movie was good, the second was eh, third was horrendous, I was confused about the fourth but when the fifth hit, I became a believer and with the sixth one… It brings everything back to the point in the present time, which the latest point of the series is in “Tokyo Drift.”

F&F’s prequel series makes the first three films BETTER than they were originally. That is a HUGE accomplishment that you do not see readily as you watch the film.

Secondly, FURIOUS 6 is unapologetically an action film with a big heart. When in love, you do things and say stuff that can be hokey or maybe a bit forced. Some dialogue in this movie seems that way, but I know its heart is in the right place. The stunts are extreme and then disregard any sense of physics and turns its heroes and villains into what easily could be comic book superheroes. I have no problem with that association and neither should the cast and crew.

Third point is diversity.  FURIOUS 6 highlights this aspect two fold with essentially Team Toretto (with help of Rock’s super muscled “Samoan Thor” Hobbs and super-fight-chick Riley played Gina Carano) chasing down who could have been THEM say around the time of the first F&F movie, you know if Team Toretto were cold and callous psychopaths with no sense of morals. Both teams are multicultural.  Stereotypes are tossed out the door. Everyone plays up their characters without compromising them for the sake of a cheap gag. I really appreciate that since many action films take extra effort to have an almost completely white cast and only about one or two roles for actors of other ethnicities.

This movie also worked because unlike the past five villains, this guy Ian Shaw (Luke Evans), has no conscience. He flattens multiple innocent bystanders in their cars with a tank. I love that the film pointed this out and played it up as a part of the storyline. He has a moment where he gets off on the carnage. For a film with bombastic action, it found time to work in little character moments.

Everyone in this film has those little character moments. For the main cast, we did not need too many because we know Dom, Brian, Mia, Tej, Roman, Han and Gisele. Their maturation continues in small ways that do not slow the movie down because then we’d call it “Slow and Mild-mannered.” Even Hobbs has a character moment when he’s not kicking someone’s ass (even that is a moment — this guy is crazy) and some are awkward but most of them work.

This is a great saga and I love the movie more and more because of its real straight-up, no chaser approach to what it is: a fun, popcorn action movie with movie mistakes (every movie has them) that breaks rules and has a ball doing so all at once. I love it because of what is really running under the hood: an intricate and layered story about a family desperately seeking to redeem itself after years of being on the wrong side of the law. You can’t help but root for that.

Also that stinger scene that ties the saga full circle with the upcoming FAST 7 villain is a great reveal and again, makes a previous film BETTER and elevates not only this film but gives the next one plenty of room to run on next year. All of that accomplished in 15 seconds at least. Props given where it is due.

I am going to put my rep as a movie watcher and narrative composer on the line and give FURIOUS 6 the highest rating I feel that it not only deserves for being such a grand piece in a complicated puzzle but also making action matter, even if colliding into a bridge, catching a girl and landing on a well placed car is a physicist’s wet dream and nightmare.

So is FAST & FURIOUS 6 one of the best movies of the year? I think so.

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