One of the most anticipated films of the summer, Fast & Furious 6 dropped on Memorial Day weekend with its multi-cultural star power, its high speed car chases, massive explosions, and one well-documented tank. Dom Torretto (Vin Diesel) finds himself living the life without fear of extradition, while Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and Mia Torretto (Jordana Brewster) welcome their first child; Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) are jet-setting in style. But when Diplomatic Security Service Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) arrives with a picture of the thought-to-be-deceased Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Torretto’s old flame, the Torretto gang is back in action.
Taking on Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) and his crack team of drivers, our crew finds that the stakes are much higher. Shaw is stealing the pieces necessary for a massive “blackout” instrument, and Letty has joined his crew. Honestly, to provide the back story in a quick review would be pointless, but this one is the first movie to really pull on the stories we saw in 2 Fast 2 Furious, Tokyo Drift (as a precursor), and Fast Five. We see the family that Torretto has fought so hard to protect having to unite to find out the truth about one of their own, battling (for once) against a common enemy, rather than bickering with each other.
The film itself has some significant visual pizzazz. The car chases are what you would expect from a Justin Lin flick, but the degree to which they’ve been ratcheted up (aforementioned tank, exploding cargo plane, ramp cars) is significant. But this film is almost more about personal, hand-to-hand combat than car battles. Gina Carano and Michelle Rodriguez mix it up (that’s an understatement) while Torretto and Hobbs fight Kim Kold as Klaus, and Roman keeps ending up at the wrong end of The Raid: Redemption’s Joe Taslim. It’s fast… and furious battling.
But the main villain, Shaw, is pretty forgettable, even if his toys have some serious power, like the race car with a ramp on it, the smart “bullets” that can immobilize a car. Still, Shaw’s team seems to stay one step ahead every time, citing “precision” as his claim to fame, and stating that his team isn’t important individually but that their skills are clearly replaceable. This is the unifying theme of the movie: it’s the chronicle of Torretto’s “family above all” versus the pitch black of Shaw’s man apart, man alone. We have to consider for ourselves: do we live as complementary souls in a community or simply as “users,” who take what we want from life and relationships without regard to what that costs someone else?
As I said in my recap of the first five films, family is what it’s all about here. It’s not the family of origin but the family that stands by you in your darkest hour. Whether it’s Torretto’s unwillingness to let Letty go, Torretto recognizing that O’Conner loves his sister and must learn to accept him, or one character’s life-giving sacrifice for the other, we have family in full focus here, offering forgiveness, grace, comfort, and “back up” in every situation.
And most of all, this is FUN.
P.S. And just as an added bonus: when Torretto asks Letty if any of “this” (her former friends gathered around table together, moments before Roman will say grace) is familiar, she says, “no, but it feels like home.” To me, in a nutshell, that’s what heaven is– forgiveness has come, real unity and peace have been made known, and we are at a place of fellowship where we’re accepted for who we are in peace and joy. Obviously, Jesus isn’t THERE in the film, but when grace is invoked, the Holy Spirit is, right?