For those wondering about the secret sauce that makes Universal’s “Fast and Furious” franchise such a crowd pleaser, there it is — it’s a crowd pleaser. It’s a rather catchy and simple formula — the movies give fans what they want, which in this case happens to be fast cars, hot girls, tough guys, crazy amounts of action, and family, both literally and figuratively. It’s no wonder the series is already working on a seventh (and to hear star Vin Diesel tell hit, an eighth) installment, even as the box office busting sixth part “Fast and Furious 6” gets ready to blaze its way onto DVD/Blu-ray this December 10th.
Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson and Michelle Rodriguez lead a cast of returning all-stars as the global blockbuster franchise built on speed delivers the biggest adrenaline rush yet in this explosive extended version. Hobbs (Johnson) has been tracking an organization of lethally skilled drivers, whose mastermind (Luke Evans) is aided by the love Dom (Diesel) thought was dead, Letty (Rodriguez). The only way to stop the criminal mercenaries from stealing a top secret weapon is to outmatch them at street level, so Hobbs asks for the help of Dom and his elite team. Payment for the ultimate chase? Full pardons for all of them and a chance to make their families whole again.
The “family” gets bigger in Justin Lin’s “Fast and Furious 6”, with the action shifting to London, England, where bad guy Luke Evans is doing bad guy things. Dead members of the family return, setting the stage for another crazy series of vehicular mayhem. Lawman Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and federal fugitives Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian (Paul Walker) are now partners. As the saying goes, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend…” or something along those lines. Basically, a pardon for our anti-heroes is at stake, which means, yes, cue over-the-top car stunts!
If there’s one thing the people making the franchise understands, it’s to not mess with something that isn’t broken. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprise if there’s an actual book every director has to follow. Of course, it helps that Lin has been on the job for the last few sequels, so he knows the book back and forth. He delivers on everything fans want. At this point, I like to mention I think of the series as more of a superhero comic book franchise than an action one, what with characters literally flying around onscreen and whatnot. They even threw in a tank for good measure this time around.
Character-wise, everyone grows a bit, Brian and Mia (Jordana Brewster) are playing house (though predictably that doesn’t last), and other pairings get major life-changing resolutions to help tie up “Fast and Furious 6” with the black sheep of the series, “Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift”. All of this sets the stage for part 7, due sometime next year from new director James Wan. It’s impossible not to like “Fast and Furious 6” if you were already a fan of the last five movies. Following up on the chaos of “Fast Five”, part six is even twice as nuts. I mean, seriously, a tank. With each successive entries making even more money than the last one, expect things to just keep getting faster and, well, furiouser.
If you love the movie, you’re going to have plenty to dive in with the bonus features. Director Justin Lin shows up for a full-length audio commentary. There’s nothing wrong with Lin’s track, but with ensemble heavy films, I always prefer to hear from the cast. Invariably it ends up with all the actors goofing off, which is, let’s face it, what most of us want to hear. This is purely a matter of taste. If you’re interested in learning everything else about the movie’s production, Lin is your man.
The Blu-ray Combo Pack comes with an extended edition of the movie, which includes a few minutes of extra footage, but nothing you couldn’t live without. There are also a handful of featurettes, all of them vehicle-centric (of course). “The London Chase” goes behind the scenes of the film’s London car chase; “Highway Heist: The Convoy Attack” is all about the tank; “The Antonov Takedown” breaks down why that airport runway at the end of the movie felt like it was 20 miles long; and finally, “Dom and Letty Race Again” reunites the two lovebirds onscreen once again. In light of series star Paul Walker’s death in real life, this is especially a bittersweet storyline.
More features include “Gearhead’s Delight”, “The FLIP Car”, and my personal favorite, “Hand-to-Hand Fury”. For a movie about cars, “Fast and Furious 6” featured some pretty nifty hand-to-hand combat. And finally, “On the Set with Vin” is exactly what it sounds like.