"So how's the life of the retired international criminal?" asks federal agent Luke Hobbs. The target of that question? Dominic Toretto, the street racer extraordinaire who's traded his fast-and-furious lifestyle for warm sea breezes off the coast of Spain and even warmer embraces of former Rio de Janeiro detective Elena Neves.
In other words, life is about as "good" as it gets. Nothing could pull Dom away from the languid-and-lazy paradise he now enjoys.
Well, almost nothing.
Hobbs (along with a new partner Agent Riley) has arrived at Dom's cozy Canary Islands bungalow in need of help. The kind of high-octane help, he argues, only Dom and his streetwise crew can provide.
Specifically, Hobbs has been tasked with capturing rogue special ops officer Owen Shaw, who's morphed into a dastardly villain intent on stealing components to build a high-tech bomb capable of crippling a country's communications. And he only needs one more chip to activate it.
Dom's not interested in playing James Bond, though.
Until, that is, Hobbs tosses a picture of one of Shaw's team members onto the table. It's the love of Dom's life: Letty Ortiz, who was supposedly killed in an operation years (and sequels) before. To Dom's shock, she's still alive.
Dom's chief Fast & Furious compatriot, Brian O'Conner, doesn't buy it. "He's messing with your head," Brian says. "Letty's dead, Dom."
"I need to know for sure."
"Then I'm going with you," Brian says.
And so will the rest of their crew: the always-bantering Roman and Tej, and the increasingly cozy Han and Gisele. They weren't doing much but spending money, driving Ferraris and eluding police anyway. Why not join Dom and Brian for another nitrous oxide infused adventure?
Amid explosions, shootouts and high-speed chases, they close in on Shaw and Letty. But when Dom finally chases down the former love of his life … she has no memory of him.
And then she shoots him.
Dom isn't deterred by Letty's shockingly violent response. He knows there must be a reason she can't remember who he is (a reason that does eventually come to light). So Dom's determined to rescue and redeem her. "You don't turn your back on family," he tells Brian. "Even when they do."
Indeed, the importance of family is once again front and center, just as it was in Fast Five. For Dom and Co., loyalty and sacrifice are the name of the game. That's especially true when Brian's love, Mia, gets kidnapped by Shaw and used as a bargaining chip.
Shaw sees Dom's attachment to family as an exploitable weakness, saying, "Every man has to have a code. Mine is precision. … Your code is family, and that makes you predictable and vulnerable." Still, Shaw admires the fact that Dom actually stands for something that matters. "At least you have a code. Most men don't," he says.
When Letty is eventually rescued, the film asks us to see Elena's willingness to relinquish Dom (so he can be reunited with his one true love) as a good thing. Speaking of sacrificing for lovers, another character willingly lays down her life to save someone she loves.
Letty's cross necklace, an icon throughout the series, gets lots of screen time. Roman says grace, thanking the Father for friendship, "for the choices that make us who we are," for Brian and Mia's newborn "little angel" and, "most of all, for fast cars." We hear Tupac Shakur's song "Only God Can Judge Me Now." Hobbs mentions "the walls of Jericho."
Toretto is shown getting out of bed (shirtless) with Elena, whose bare back and a bit of breast are shown. The film's main street-racing scene is populated by de rigueur throngs of women wearing very little as they writhe and dance. The camera pans slowly over the mostly female crowd, lingering on bare legs and plunging necklines. Similarly leering camera treatment elsewhere focuses on women in thong-like bikinis. The film's main female characters often sport cleavage-baring tops. Dom tells Letty how she got scars on her shoulder and on her abdomen, pulling back her shirt suggestively to reveal each.
Verbal references address the size of male characters' manhood. Sexually sleazy comments are made while watching two women fight. There's a line about liking rough sex.
Fast & Furious 6's violence and death-dealing is almost completely bloodless, so much so that the movie feels a bit like a cartoon or a stylized video game. That's not necessarily a good thing or even a better thing, though. Read on and you'll see why.
The film opens with Dom and Brian recklessly racing their signature machines—a Dodge Charger and a Nissan GT-R, respectively—on a treacherous canyon road. One of Shaw's cars sports custom steel panels that allow it to drive under other cars, launching them into the air. And we see him do exactly that during a crazy chase. He's joined by a woman named Vegh who is driving a similarly deadly machine: Zipping against the flow of traffic on clogged London thoroughfares, many cars are, therefore, explosively hurled this way and that.
Even more vehicles are destroyed in the next big chase, one that involves Shaw piloting a tank down a Spanish highway. The wicked war machine crushes various vehicles in its path, and a harpoon connects a car with the tank, leaving the smaller conveyance to careen wildly at the end of a cable, causing even more carnage. Throughout the pursuit, daredevils jump from one moving vehicle to the next in their attempts to stop Shaw's rampage. And I haven't even mentioned the tank's big gun yet!
A few scenes after that it's a massive military transport plane replacing the tank. It's trying to take off as Toretto and his team repeatedly harpoon its wings from cars that dangle beneath. Eventually they bring the beast down—explosively so—even as more utterly improbable leaping from car to plane and back again takes place beneath it. Illegal street races take place in cities such as London and Tokyo, with reckless participants careening and drifting through those cities as civilians in cars and on foot rush to get out of the way.
And then there's the hand-to-hand combat. Multiple battles take place between various combinations of combatants. Especially worth noting is Letty's smackdown with Riley (the latter lady played by actress and mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano). These two women pound each other with feet and fists in just about every way imaginable, including tumbling down a flight of stairs together at one point. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, director Justin Lin said of their clash, "Our goal was: F‑‑‑ everything else, let's make it the best female fight in history."
Toretto, Hobbs and O'Conner also engage in ferocious, body-slam filled melees with Shaw and his lackeys. Han and Roman end up on the receiving end of another beat down. And in each matchup, various characters are not only beaten, but hurled into and through walls, glass sheets, wooden containers, etc. Hobbs roughs up one of Shaw's henchmen (illegally) in a Russian interrogation room. And a pawn shop owner gets his head repeatedly rammed into bulletproof glass, eventually knocking him out.
Bullets tear into quite a few folks, including Dom, who gets hit in the shoulder at close range. (We watch as he later starts to dig the slug out.) One woman shoots another with a harpoon, sending her out an open airplane hatch as she spits, "Wrong team, b‑‑ch." Somebody falls from a dangling car and is presumably killed (offscreen), while somebody else is killed after his car is rammed and explodes. A parking garage is blown to bits, leaving dead many police officers stationed there.
Crude or Profane Language
Nearly 60 vulgarities total, including one f-word, about 15 s-words, a pairing of God's name with "d‑‑n" and two abuses of Jesus' name. Profanities used seven or eight times each include "a‑‑," "b‑‑ch," "h‑‑‑" and "d‑‑n." There are one or two uses each of "bloody" and "b‑‑tard." Someone mockingly jokes that a male team member has joined "Team P‑‑‑y."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Characters consume beer and champagne in several scenes.
Other Negative Elements
Gratuitously displaying his hacking skills, Tej rigs an ATM to begin spewing currency to delighted tourists. A snooty Brit presiding over a car auction presumes that Tej and Hobbs don't have money to participate. After Tej buys all the cars, however, he also demands the man's shirt … and pants … and wristwatch as payback for the snub. (We then see the guy in pink boxers and socks as he walks away.) Tej suggests that the man should find some "hedge clippers" to trim his chest hair.
Hobbs shows disdain for international security when he allows Shaw to escape custody so that Toretto can go save Mia.
What does $626.1 million—Fast Five's remarkable global box office take back in 2011—buy you when you're ready to make the next installment in the franchise? Easy answer: Even more of what fans have come to expect (nay, demand) from this nitrous oxide propelled series. And that would be? Faster, furiouser cars, more 'splosions and higher stakes.
Viewers just can't get enough of Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson and the rest of the blue collar, dirt-under-their-nails multiethnic crew. And even though Dom, Brian and the rest of the gang aren't technically superheroes, their Speed Racer-on-steroids exploits are so outlandish they may as well be. As they take on a would-be international terrorist this time around, the franchise increasingly feels as if it's accelerating into James Bond-meets-Iron Man territory.
Of course it has long-since pegged the tachometer on generating big, bold and mindless ACTION to support that larger-than-life summer blockbuster vibe. I'm glad it includes some positive messages about family and sacrifice. That's not always something guaranteed in these kinds of flicks. It's not even something guaranteed in this franchise.
But there remains enough brain- and body-searing violence, slinky sensuality, glamorized law-breaking, rash risk-taking and profanity to effectively flood the motor and stall the machine.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto; Paul Walker as Brian O'Conner; Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs; Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz; Luke Evans as Owen Shaw; Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto; Sung Kang as Han Seoul-Oh; Gal Gadot as Gisele Harabo; Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce; Ludacris as Tej Parker; Elsa Pataky as Elena Neves; Gina Carano as Riley; Clara Paget as Vegh
Justin Lin (Fast Five, Fast & Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Annapolis)
May 24, 2013
Adam R. Holz Adam R. Holz