Tag Archives: Fast and Furious 6

Film Face/Off: Fast & Furious 6

The first of a new series where two of our writers thrash out a film disagreement with only their wits and spell check to assist them. To the death!

Fast & Furious 6

fast-furious-6-dwayne-johnson

Owen Hughes is a big dumb action fan (interpret that how you wish), but even he has standards.

Now I’m as big a fan of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in action movies as the next guy. He’s great in the earlier stuff like Welcome to the Jungle and Walking Tall, as well as more recently in films like Faster and GI Joe: Retaliation. Considering he’s in about a hundred films released this year, it’s not really that surprising then that not all of them can be hits. Some of them, such as Fast & Furious 6, had to be misses.

Maybe it’s because I’ve only ever seen the first film in the series and none of its sequels that I didn’t like F&F6? Maybe it takes time to warm to the annoying, one dimensional, unfunny characters and their slapstick comedy mixed with flailing one-liners?

I didn’t really expect the film to be any different to what it was. I’d seen the seven minute or so long preview that shows an edited version of the tank scene twice already when it was shown before Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness. I wasn’t hugely impressed (“we need a plan b, c, d, a whole other alphabet”. Sigh.) Although, in the context of what’s happening with the plot – I use the term ‘plot’ loosely – that action set piece does work fairly well. If you could remove some of the horrendous snappy one-liners, I might even have said it worked rather well.

In fact, most of the action bits which punctuate every scene like an unnecessary exclamation mark are handled well. No less well than you’d expect, but ‘well’ all the same. You have people leaping from one car onto another, fighting on planes, some very pretty shots of London as cars race through the brightly lit streets at night. Can’t really argue with that.

However, it has virtually no substance. The Rock tries his best, but the cast are just charisma vacuums. Vin Diesel’s face has about 3 muscles in it; one to control his bottom lip to allow him to mumble and one which allows his thick leathery forehead to force his eyelids down so he can blink/sleep. The final muscle pulls back the corner of his mouth so you can tell when he’s happy/satisfied/pleased with himself. The rest of his face does. not. move. If they ever plan on remaking The Terminator…

I bloody love big dumb action films usually. We’ve all heard of the phrase “so bad it’s good”, and whether you agree with that term or not, there’s some truth to it. A film can be so intentionally stupid that it somehow becomes quite entertaining. But there’s a line to how dumb and how big an action film can be before it does a full 360 turn and goes back to being just dumb. F&F6 is one of those movies; one of the most ridiculous, lame, downright stupid movies I’ve seen in the cinema all year. It was trying so hard to have fun that it felt forced and meant I wasn’t having fun at all during it. The most excited I got during the film was at the end credits with a certain cameo. Why? I’ve no idea because I don’t really plan on watching the sequel!

Fast and furious 6James Diamond is a passionate new convert to the cause of the Fast and Furious franchise, and is off to Tokyo to learn the ancient art of drifting.

Until this week I hadn’t seen a single Fast and/or Furious film, and in a disturbing turn of events I have now seen three of them. That’s half the series. I had always dismissed these films as Top Gear for teenagers. Big dumb car crashes, terrible acting, and that awful music that young people listen to. (You know, anything made after 1998.) Luckily, my obsessive and completest nature decreed I needed to make a dent in the franchise before we reviewed Fast & Furious 6 on this week’s podcast. Spending so long in such a short space of time with these ‘characters’ had an odd effect on me. I grew fond of them.

The thing is, it’s impossible to judge the true value of Fast & Furious 6 in isolation from the rest of the series. Indeed, this is a film franchise bizarrely obsessed with its own continuity and mythology which at times is more complex than a season of Game of Thrones. Going into FF6 without watching the rest of the series is akin to trying to jump straight into a random episode of a soap opera and criticising character decisions and motivations, or plot twists you didn’t see coming.

In fact, the Fast and the Furious films are the last great American soap opera. Not only does it follow the naming conventions of classics like The Bold and the Beautiful, or The Young and the Restless, but the themes and plot points are also remarkably similar. Fast and Furious 6 alone features fan favourites returning from the dead, characters with amnesia, and even a comment on the existence of evil twins. The script serves purely to move the story along, and this film features even more exposition than explosions.

It does stop every now and again for a character to put each other down, but usually in a loving, familial way. There are a few terrible lines delivered with the intensity of a Royal Shakespeare Company graduate auditioning for Hamlet though, with my personal favourite being Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) wisely imparting the knowledge that “to catch wolves, you need wolves”. I’m not sure that’s exactly how bait works. I’d consider a goat tied to a stake and armed men in position a better way than some kind of wolf showdown; but that’s why I’m not haring around the world recruiting criminals to catch other criminals, and playing hard and loose with diplomatic treaties.

Personally, I like Vin Diesel in these films. He’s cool, calm, and even gets to beat up The Rock at times. All while talking like he uses nettles and razor blades as mouthwash. Paul Walker is hilariously bad, but in a way that doesn’t detract from the film. He spends almost every scene with a look of childish glee on his face, as though he can’t quite believe this is his job. In many ways though, this is exactly how maverick FBI agent turner super criminal Brian O’Conner would behave in the same situation. Maybe we just don’t see that this giddy and excitable character has completely taken over the personality of method actor Paul Walker?

The rest of the cast are a pretty likeable bunch, and you definitely get the feeling of the dreaded ‘F’ word that is uttered every few minutes. Family. The really great thing about this film is that although it is very self-aware, it still treats its serious moments with a level of respect that is admirable. As a convert to the series I really enjoyed the latest outing for the crew, but even if I hadn’t become so connected with the characters I still would’ve had ten times the fun watching it than I did last year’s The Bourne Narcolepsy.

Sit down. Strap in. Ride or die.

Are you Team Owen or Team James (as we believe is the common parlance with the youth)? Is this fast becoming a favourite franchise, or are you furious that they keep making them? 

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What to Expect When You’re Expecting to go to the Cinema in 2013: Part 2

With nearly a quarter of the year already a distant memory, James Diamond presents the notable releases and hidden gems in UK cinemas from April through to June.

April

Dwayne 'The Rock' Jonhson in Snitch
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Jonhson in Snitch

Spring is turning into the new Summer in terms of the big studio blockbusters, and getting the jump on your rivals this early in the year can work out heavily in a film’s  favour if it’s good enough (Avengers passed the $1 billion mark before The Dark Knight Rises even saw the inside of a multiplex last year). Marvel has opted for a repeat of that strategy with the release of Iron Man 3 on 26th April, and they’ll be hoping for similar success from Shane Black’s take on Tony Stark. Personally, I just think it’s great to see Shane Black getting the kind of backing that Joss Whedon received last year. It genuinely seems like the age of the blockbuster auteur.

Iron Man 3 isn’t going to have it all its own way in terms of the sci-fi blockbuster landscape though, with the Tom Cruise vehicle Oblivion getting its UK release on 12th April. Cruise plays one of the last remaining drone repairmen, looking after the surface of Earth which was deserted by humanity decades before, following a brutal war with an alien race. From its Wall-E-esque beginnings, it’s clear that the film soon descends into an all-action shoot-em-up and conspiracy thriller, also featuring Morgan Freeman and Andrea Riseborough.

This really is a month of action, with ‘Die Hard in the White House’ thriller Olympus Has Fallen (17th April) stealing a march on a very similar looking White House Down (released in September) and making the brave choice to be a violent adult  action film in a world where the Die Hard and Taken franchises have chosen to appeal to a child audience. We also get our second glimpse of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in as many weeks as he follows up GI Joe: Retaliation with Snitch; a film apparently based on the true life story of a father who went undercover for the FBI to get his son out of trouble.

I wish The Rock was my dad.

Also released this month is the unnecessary, but potentially great Evil Dead remake, as well as the latest Michael Winterbottom /Steve Coogan collaboration The Look of Love, which has been impressing audiences at Sundance and Glasgow Film Festival.

May

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson in Fast 6
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in Fast 6

Another month, another highly anticipated sci-fi blockbuster sequel. Star Trek Into Darkness (no colon there? Really? Sounds like a film about hiking) arrives in the UK on 9th May, and first impressions have all of us at Failed Critics very excited. The first instalment of the reboot series was impressive, but things look like getting a whole lot bigger, darker, and Benedict Cumberbatchier in the sequel.

The following week the UK will get its first look at another big budget, 3D and CGI’d beast of a blockbuster in the shape of a screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby. Wait, that can’t be right. I have a feeling that The Great Gatsby in 3D is either going to be incredible, or one of the worst films of the year. Baz Luhrmann doesn’t tend to do shades of grey.

This month also sees the release of a couple of sequels, with their respective franchises suffering very different fortunes at the moment. While The Hangover Part III (24th May) looks like being another experiment in ever decreasing comic returns in a series that started reasonably well and then went off a cliff, Fast and Furious 6 looks like being the biggest and most utterly bonkers instalment of a franchise that people had written off as irrelevant years ago.

How did they do it? Two words: The Rock.

Also out this month is a foreign language film to get those of you who don’t mind reading your movies excited. A Hijacking was one of my favourite films of Glasgow Film Festival, and it finally gets a UK release on 10th May. Written and directed by one of the creators of Borgen, it tells the harrowing story of a Danish freighter hijacked by Somali pirates in quite harrowing and ultra-realistic style.

June

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson in Pain and Gain. It's not out until August, but who's going to argue with him?
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in Pain and Gain. It’s not out until August, but who’s going to argue with him?

Every year we see films with a similar narrative start point going up against each other. Years ago it was Armageddon and Deep Impact. A few years later we had Melancholia and Another Earth, while last year we saw two excellent ‘cops trapped in apartment block’ movies in The Raid and Dredd. This summer a couple of ‘deserted Earth and the fight for humanity’s future’ blockbusters coming out within a few months of each other. I’ve already written about Oblivion, but 7th June sees the release of After Earth, the latest film from the crossword wrapped in a Sudoku that is M. Knight Shyamalan. It’s got plenty of star power though, starring Will Smith in one of his rare screen appearances, and his son Jaden Smith.

The big release this month is the return of Superman in Zac Snyder’s Man of Steel. Clunkily billed as ‘Produced by the Director of The Dark Knight Trilogy’, the early trailers suggest that Snyder may have toned down the visual style that made 300 and Watchmen so great to look at. I’m looking forward to this, but I have a nagging suspicion that this might be Snyder doing a Nolan impression, and that’s a worry.

World War Z starring Brad Pitt is out on 21st June, and it seems to have fallen into the trap of thinking that the kids today just aren’t scared by shuffling zombies any more  It’s a shame, as I really enjoyed the book and I think it may have been better produced as an HBO miniseries, rather than a bog-standard zombie flick that is World War Z in name only. We shall see.

A far more entertaining look at the end of the world could be found in Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen’s This Is The End. The setting is a party at James Franco’s house, and a variety of celebrities end up facing the apocalypse together. While there is definitely the potential for this to be horrifically self-indulgent and only funny to those on set, the trailer holds up very well and the cast list is a veritable who’s who of US comedy. Fingers crossed.

Rounding off this preview is Joss Whedon’s new film. Considering his last film was a near 3 hour epic that made over $1 billion at the box office and resurrected the superhero ensemble movie, it’s typical Whedon that his next release is a black and white Shakespeare comedy that he filmed in his house with his close friends over a couple of weeks. Much Ado About Nothing got rave reviews at Glasgow Film Festival last month, and word is that it could be one of the great adaptations of the Bard’s work.