I feel a little embarrassed saying this, but I recently watched and enjoyed the fast-car soap-opera-with-guns Fast & Furious 6. It was just as intelligent as I had expected it to be, with plenty of zoom-zoom-bang-bang to make up for its intellectual shortcomings. Which is to say, the movie was almost entirely about action and cars. Much as in other entries in the series, women’s legs also made an important appearance by filling the screen at (in)appropriate moments.
While the writers clearly didn’t care one whit about how computers actually work (normal for the genre), they surprised me by offering a genuine sense of continuity with the other Fast/Furious films. This made me very happy indeed, as the various tie-ins towards the end brought Tokyo Drift into relation with the rest of the series. They also clearly established where the next action will most likely take place and why it will be exciting…
Maybe I should have started paying attention to the Fast/Furious franchise a while ago? It’s actually very entertaining, if you aren’t looking for more than a zippy Hollywood action flick. There are plenty of little funny bits thrown in amidst the muscle cars and the swooshy speedy goodness. And while I wouldn’t call the series a pillar of feminism, number six seems to have done a better job of having cool and/or kickass ladies than most other action movies that I’ve seen recently. It even has Gina Carano, the MMA champ who starred in Haywire (yes, she is mean to people and is very physical about it, and yes, it is a pleasure to watch). The movie delivers on the dramatic tension involved in the various ups and downs of a typical soap opera, with appropriate changes in love interests, loyalties, and liveliness, meaning that you’ll be treated to sexual tension, division, and death. I’ll say a bit more, but it will nearly all be *SPOILERS*
The stinger at the end of six basically just tells us that Jason Statham is going to be the new reason to be excited about the next installment. The thing that I thought was least satisfying was watching the movie’s (relative) feminist promise waver towards the end; while there were certainly heroic ladies at various points through the movie, for the most part it’s men saving women and not the other way around. Only Han and Giselle seem to trade roles with each other here, with each protecting the other. But the final example of this falls perilously close to ‘fridging,’ with Giselle letting herself die so that she can shoot the man about to shoot Han. I can understand why they’d have Giselle die to leave Han clear to go to Tokyo alone (Giselle wasn’t in Tokyo Drift, so I guess they felt she was doomed by canon), but I wish she’d had more chance to shine earlier in the movie so that it didn’t just feel like she was being killed off as some weird way to develop Han’s character. Maybe I’m being too harsh, buuuuut… after watching other characters survive being thrown from vehicles moving at similar speeds, having Giselle die at that point felt contrived and like a less awesome exit than I felt she merited. Besides, Giselle and Han totally made the best couple.
Despite my disagreements with their narrative choices, I did enjoy the movie. You probably would too, especially with good drinks and good company.