By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
I was not a huge fan of the Fast & Furious movie franchise. I enjoyed The Fast and the Furious because it has some highly laughable writing and acting, but it also features some superb stunt driving. Flash forward through four movies of both horrendous and mediocre varieties to 2013. If someone had asked me a year ago what I was expecting from a sixth installment in the series, the answer would be in the mediocre to worse range. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The latest installment of the Fast & Furious series pleasantly surprised me with sharp witted writing, descent acting, and thrills galore and I cannot wait for, dare I say it, the seventh film which is due in theaters next year.
Following the events of the previous film, Dominick Torretto (Vin Diesel), his girlfriend Elena (Elsa Pataky), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), Mia Torretto (Jordana Brewster) and Brian and Mia’s baby have been living comfortably abroad and somewhat enjoying their retirement. However, the fact that they can never return home does sadden every one of them. U.S. DSS Agent Luke Hobbs successfully locates the group, but not to apprehend them. He seeks their help in catching an international criminal heavy named Shaw (Luke Evans) in exchange for complete amnesty, allowing them to return home. Reluctant to participate in another job, Toretto nevertheless is lured by the fact that his believed to be dead ex-girlfriend Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) has joined Shaw’s group.
I’m not going to completely pretend that the film does not have any unintentionally funny moments. There are a few here and there, but thankfully, this sixth chapter shows a maturity in its script that the others have been lacking. Written by Chris Morgan and directed by Justin Lin, this is probably the first film in the series that could be taken somewhat seriously. Don’t get me wrong, Lin and Morgan still deliver a badass time. The action and racing sequences thrill and enthrall, and the humor will have audiences laughing. There’s much less unintentional humor and much more intentional jokes. This movie is one hell of a ride.
Even the acting, which I noticed has improved through the series, has gotten even better this time around. The Golden Globes and Oscars will not be nominating these stars, but the complete cast delivers effective performances and probably the best of the series so far. Lin and Morgan utilize the strengths and weaknesses of their stars well. In addition to the actors mentioned above, the movie features Fast & Furious alumni Tyrese Gibson (Roman), Sung Hang (Han), Gal Godot (Gisele), Chris “Ludacris” Bridges (Tej) and new cast member Gina Carano as Hobbs’ assistant agent Riley. I must definitely acknowledge the awesome and cool performance by Luke Evans who portrays Shaw. He makes for a wicked cool villain.
Despite my feelings toward the past films, I have always enjoyed the characters of this saga. So after 6 films, I have been converted into a fan. I have to hand it to Justin Lin and Chris Morgan for reinvigorating a franchise I never thought would have lasted this long. If they succeed in delivering another stellar flick with number 7, then I will be applauding and anticipating an eighth chapter.