Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Review: "Fast & Furious 6"

Over on the official MovieBoozer Facebook page, a question was posed to readers: When does a film cross the line from stupid-fun to just plain stupid? This being the season for big and loud Hollywood blockbusters, it's a perfect time to provide an answer. So many sequels, so much potential money to be made, so much money to burn - and so many fine examples.

What is a "plain stupid" movie? There are many components that are considered; plot, logic, character behavior, etc. But, for me, none of those necessarily equal "plain stupid" by themselves or even together. Movies like The Room and Birdemic may be incompetent technically, and laughter usually ensues from this, but they remain fun to watch. Why? Aside from laughing at the incorrect skills and unusual moments of the film, there is sometimes a genuine effort going on that shines through the screen. Sure, the cast and crew were over their heads, but they at least tried. That's admirable.

"Plain stupid", for me, is when there is no joy or redeemable quality to be had from a film. No effort to attempt to elevate the material from stupid to fun, just a paycheck and a job to do.

The Fast and the Furious franchise didn't start on the right side of the line, but it eventually crossed over.

Fast & Furious 6 finds the team in exile from their last job. But they are soon brought back into action when they are offered a new job - working for Interpol to capture a high level criminal, who has ties to an old friend of theirs. Cars crash, bodies fly and explosions explode. Nothing else matters.


Justin Lin took over the series with Tokyo Drift, and has done every movie since. While I have not seen those movies, there must be a reason as to why he was given the director's chair all those times. In watching 6, I understood. Lin understands how to present stupid without being stupid. In other words, he is capable of elevating the material given, without alienating the target audience. A perfect director, actually.

Now, don't get me wrong; this is a dumb movie. There are moments when the logic within the story is broken, and characters don't notice. Like when the team is hired. They are brought to a makeshift headquarters to take down this international criminal because, I assume, Interpol has tried and failed too many times. Then, in the next scene, the team is watching as Interpol performs a raid on the bad guys location. If you were going to do a raid with a freaking army, WHY DID YOU NEED TO HIRE THIS SMALL TEAM?

But there were two deeper points being made at that moment: 1. It was to establish the cunning and dangerous nature of the bad guy and 2. The logic doesn't matter. In the scene after, we get a roughly ten minute car chase, featuring multiple crashes. The cinematography and editing was spot on, making me understand and feel what was at stake for the characters, without the premise of the situation even making much sense. Impressive. If the action is done well, you'll be saying "Awesome!" instead of "Boo!"

Lin also understands that we need to care, at least a little, about the characters and what they are going through. Without that, why should we invest in the action? Vin Diesel has a wonderful nighttime stand off with the villain. Both men banter about family, honor and code in a very tense manner. There eyes rarely unlock from one another. If you know nothing about the previous Lin Furious films, you'll learn all you need from that one scene. And, for something big and dumb, all we need is that one scene.

"Stupid-fun", for me, is dumb material that is understood and elevated by the people involved. They are not stupid and are putting in all the effort they can. Out of that, can be something worth eating popcorn to. And don't be embarrassed about joining others on that side of the line - there's plenty of room.

3/5 *s

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