The later three The Fast and Furious films, excluding the upcoming The Fate of the Furious, are heralded as the rare occasion in which the later installments of a franchise are better than their predecessors. This trilogy has been hugely successful from all sides. Fans like them. Critics tolerate them, at the very least. And the box office loves them.
Furious Six is where all pretense of the franchise’s premise fall away. The film is barely about racing, it is merely an action film featuring a lot of cars. And a lot of family.
In comparison to its immediate predecessor, Fast Five, Furious Six is a bit clunky narratively. A bit in terms of the The Fast and Furious franchise, mind you.
The film begins strong enough. The usual crew of Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker), and the rest of them team up with Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and the DSS to take down Shaw (Luke Evans) and his crew of criminals who, you know, do criminal things.
This setup is fun. The idea of Dom’s team of drag racers (themselves, undoubtedly, criminal) facing off against an equally matched team of criminals is a great introduction to a schlocky F-and-F film.
This idea gets largely abandoned when the re-introduction of Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty takes center stage. Shaw is a background figure, more of a macguffin than an actual antagonist.
While this makes the middle third of the film clunky—although the resurgence of Rodriguez into the franchise is a welcomed choice—Furious Six is still the action funhouse that we have come to expect form these films.
The difference between this and Fast Five—the benchmark of quality thus far in the series—is that the action set pieces that are worth indulging in are back-loaded in Furious Six. The bridge tank sequence. The lets-strap-our-cars-to-a-giant-airplane-because-we’re-smart sequence. These are in the last 40 minutes of the film.
Much of the action leading up to this is smaller in scale. There are some great hand-to-hand combat scenes and the occasional cookie-cutter Fast & Furious race scene. But you have to wait to have your guilty pleasure cake.
While certainly worth the wait for those in the market for a mindless action romp that has both a competent director and enough money behind it to make this action genuinely entertaining, Furious Six doesn’t live up to the high bar.
Furious Six: B
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)