Thanks to Vin Diesel roaming the streets of Metro Manila recently, Fast & Furious 6 is guaranteed to be a monster hit in the Philippines regardless of what movie reviews say--especially if the review comes from someone who has no business evaluating the merits of a cinematic work of art. But let\'s give this a try.
First off, let\'s get this out of the way: If you\'re the type of moviegoer who can\'t suspend your disbelief just enough to restrain yourself from sneering at the sight of a mortal man safely flying out of a Mustang and into an Escort traveling at full speed, you can stop reading now--this film is not for you.
Yes, this movie is ridiculously incredible. So are Iron Man, Inception, Star Trek and It Takes A Man And A Woman. To bitch on your Facebook wall about how it sucked to see Diesel scooping a woman in free fall and then landing on the hood of a car unscathed, is to bitch about Superman having the ability to leap tall buildings. Hello? This is a motion picture, and is in fact already the sixth installment of a franchise which, if you haven\'t noticed, doesn\'t give a rat\'s ass about being realistic. If you want realistic, go watch WRC or National Geographic.
If anything, it wasn\'t the crazy car chases and aerial somersaults that made my stomach turn--it was the often cheesy dialogue, made even worse by Diesel\'s speech disorder. In particular, I couldn\'t stand how--every time the protagonists were about to face an extremely dangerous situation--they\'d mouth off, \"Ride or die.\" It\'s funny as hell. You\'re about to die and you have the trivial mind to recite your gang\'s motto? I don\'t know, because I\'d definitely declaim Psalm 23 under similar circumstances.
For Fast & Furious 6, the core quartet from the original 2001 film--Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez--is back together. Which means Rodriguez\'s character, Letty Ortiz, is still alive after all (she was supposed to have died in the fourth film). Okay, this doesn\'t qualify as a spoiler because this bit of information is pretty obvious from the actress\'s inclusion in the billing.
And that\'s the beauty of the Fast & Furious series: Never aspiring to a cerebral narrative, the writer can always conveniently tweak the plot depending on the requirements of the current installment. The story always takes a backseat to the cars and the blistering action. Which is a formula that has proven to be quite successful: The first five episodes grossed a total of $1.6 billion globally, an average of $320 million per film. Not bad for a franchise that focuses on glossy sheet metal more than brilliantly written scripts. With director Justin Lin staying true to this high-octane recipe, you can expect the latest installment to continue the phenomenal box-office streak.
For this one, other familiar figures from the previous films return: Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Sung Kang, Dwayne \"The Rock\" Johnson, Gal Gadot and Elsa Pataky. Two key additions are Gina Carano and Luke Evans. Oh, and there\'s that 50 Cent-looking dude who plays one of the chief villain\'s henchmen (I dare you not to get distracted by his appearances; I always found myself wondering if the rapper was part of the cast every time his doppelganger showed up).
The story line? Former British Special Forces soldier Owen Shaw (Evans) and his crew are out to steal a high-tech device that has the ability to shut down the power grid of an entire country, making it desirable to well-funded terrorists. Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobbs (Johnson) acknowledges that the enemies are virtually unstoppable unless he enlists the services of Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and company.
But how does Hobbs convince Toretto and his brother-in-law Brian O\'Conner (Walker) to help him when they have already retired from a life of high-wire adventures, content to live in a foreign land peacefully and comfortably (thanks to the loot they escaped with in Fast Five)? Simple: Tell them that Letty Ortiz, who used to be Toretto\'s lover, is very much alive and is now a member of Shaw\'s criminal group.
Toretto, O\'Conner and the rest of the gang accept the assignment on the condition that each one of them will be granted a full pardon--they\'re fugitives, remember?--once they succeed in stopping Shaw (and, hopefully, retrieving Letty). Hobbs reluctantly agrees. And so the action begins.
It gets complicated when it becomes clear that Letty can\'t remember Toretto and her former associates. Turns out she lost her memory as a result of the car accident she was involved in, as depicted in the fourth film. Which means she\'s ready to kill anyone from Toretto\'s team, while the latter obviously can\'t and won\'t harm her.
I honestly enjoyed the movie. I even think it\'s more entertaining than Fast Five, which is hands down the best of the previous installments. I particularly loved the humorous banter of Roman Pearce (Gibson) and Tej Parker (Ludacris); the old-school cars like the Dodge Daytona and the Jensen Interceptor; the fight scenes of Gina Carano; the charismatic screen presence of The Rock; the effectiveness of Luke Evans as the diabolical Owen Shaw; and the side boob of Elsa Pataky.
Because I promised that this review would be spoiler-free, I won\'t reveal which one among Toretto\'s friends dies toward the end of the movie, or the twist involving Carano\'s character, or the details of the awesome extra clip just before the end credits (be absolutely sure to stay for this).
Yes, Fast & Furious 6 disregards all known laws of physics, has loopholes the size of Port Irene, dishes out more corny lines than a Taylor Swift CD, and has enough bad acting to elevate a porno film to Academy Awards status. But it\'s totally enjoyable, it\'s sleek, it\'s fast-paced, it\'s hilarious, and--most of all--it features cool rides. If you like cars, that\'s all you\'ll really care about.
As Tyrese Gibson prayed in the closing scene: \"Father...most of all, thank you for fast cars.\" And for Gal Gadot, if I may add.
Distributed by United International Pictures, Fast & Furious 6 is now showing at theaters nationwide.