Fast & Furious 6 (Blu-ray)
Universal Studios / 2013 / 131 mins / PG-13
The Fast & Furious series sure has come a long ways. The car-crazy group that started out as illegal street racers have now evolved to international crooks willing to take down international terrorists. So, yeah, the Fast franchise has grown far bigger and way goofier, but it's amazing how this tactic has worked at making this latest entry in the series still entertaining. Sure, it pulls a few insane tricks out of its hat, but you have to admire the glee in its craft.
Taking place after the events of Fast 5, the crime team led by Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is contacted by their good-guy nemesis Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) who now seeks their help. Hobbs has been tracking a criminal mastermind across several countries and for some reason decides that Toretto and his men are the right people for the job with their street racing smarts. And they're going to need all their quick-thinking to tackle this tricky terrorist with his various muscle, a familiar face, special gadgets, a car that can flip oncoming vehicles and a tank.
Yes, you read that last part right. A group of street racers take on a tank with little more than some sexy cars and a cable. And, yes, it's completely unbelievable how they not only stop the tank, but also manage to save one of their own in a ridiculous mid-air rescue. It's that Indiana Jones nuke-the-fridge moment where the film either becomes really stupid or really awesome. For me, it just happened to be awesome because, come on, it's a tank versus street cars. The very mention of such a sight was enough to hook me.
And even though there were a slew of well-directed and thrilling fight scenes (including an unforgettable chase/fight on a plane during take-off), the film also manages to make the large cast of characters likable. Even though it seems a little shoehorned, there is a real sense of comradery and I genuinely cared about most of these characters when the bullets and metal started flying. It's also amazing how a lot of the fantastic action scenes give plenty to do for all the characters involved.
To be fair, Fast & Furious 6 does play up a few of the expected action movie cliches. If you've watched a few, it's clear as day which character is going to be held hostage, who is going to betray whom and who is going to die tragically. But so much of the craziness and excitement work so well that you'll hardly even notice the flaws. Director Justin Lin manages to make such a gleefully earnest action film that pushes the ludicrousness to the right degree. He weaves a particular kind of dumb action movie that just warms your heart.
The 1080p transfer is beyond gorgeous for this Blu-ray with all the spectacularly shot races from dazzling night streets of London to vibrant views of Spain. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is perfectly mixed to where all the dialogue is clearly audible even with all the loud car crashing and explosions.
This Blu-ray comes packed with plenty of bonus features. "Take Control" is another special commentary feature where Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and Justin Lin chime in on their experiences working on the film.
There is an entire section of featurettes focusing on all the key action sequences from the London chase to the Antonov takedown.
If you're all about the cars, there are two great featurettes that focus on all the cars including the incredible pivoting FLIP car.
"Hand-to-Hand Fury" covers all the gritty fight scenes where the fists fly hard in both the London Underground and inside a plane.
Also included are the extras from the DVD that include deleted scenes, four more making-of featurettes, "On the Set with Vin" and feature commentary by director Justin Lin.
Fast & Furious 6 is big, dumb, car-crashing fun that's just so over-the-top you can't help but fall for its charm. The set-pieces are phenomenal, the characters are likable and the whole experience is just a lot of fun. If you don't dig big, dumb action films where a bunch of guys in cars can somehow stop a tank, this is not your movie. But for those willing to check their brain at the door for some adrenaline-fueled, car-smashing fun, this comes highly recommended.