I doubt many people who saw the original The Fast and the Furious back in 2001 would’ve thought it’d still be going strong after some 13 years. There’s even a 7th film in the works. To say that the original is a guilty pleasure is a bit of an understatement. The writing was hardly existent, the acting was nothing to write home about and the plot was paper-thin. Still, it’s sometimes hard to fault a film for knowing what it is right off the bat and never pretending to be anything else. That’s part of what made the original so good. It had the common courtesy to not take itself seriously (something that many action films often forget). Paul Walker was the only star from the original to return to the first sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious and the third entry was a standalone film forfeiting all that had come before, despite a surprise cameo just before the end credits. It wasn’t until the fourth entry, the aptly titled Fast and Furious. I was not a huge fan of that film. I felt it was a huge missed opportunity. The original cast finally returned, but the film was something of a confusing mess. I did enjoy the fifth entry, Fast Five a bit more, but I’ll go on record and say that I believe Fast and Furious 6 to be the best sequel since the original. I was surprised by how much I liked it, especially since this series doesn’t exactly call for multiple films. I won’t list the entire cast, but they all return for this chapter, including Dwayne Johnson who has had a very busy year. There’s even a returning female character who was presumed dead in the 4th film. I’m sure most readers will know who this character is by now, but I still feel compelled to keep it a secret.
This time around Hobbs (Johnson) needs the help of Dom (Vin Disel) and his crew to take down a mastermind in exchange for full pardons for Dom and Co. Luke Evans plays Owen Shaw, he is a former soldier now leading a heist gang. Since Dom and his gang are loaded with millions of dollars from a earlier heist, the full pardons is their primary reason to accept the mission. That and the fact that Shaw’s gang now includes a friend of Dom’s gang who was presumed dead. The great thing about this movie is that we’ve come to know and care about these characters and their fate. The film knows exactly what its audience wants and more than delivers. During the opening credits, we’re treated to several clips from the previous films. The wheels are in motion from the opening moments (pardon the pun). We get various intros to the main characters before they’re reunited for the mission. Some have complained that the previous sequels have veered away from the street racing scenario and ventured more into heist movie territory. Truth be told, that’s a valid complaint, but had this series stuck primarily to street racing not only would it get overly repetitive, it likely wouldn’t have lasted this long. There’s only so much you can do with street racing as your basic plot-line. I can’t imagine anyone going to a Fast and Furious film for the plot, but it is fairly involving this time around. There’s also enough humor and action to keep us interested. I appreciate the way Director Justin Lin stages the action sequences. They’re frantic, but he holds the camera still, allowing us to comprehend what we’re watching. I grow tired of the jittery shaky-cam action sequences with over stylized editing that’s become the standard for many directors lately. It’s no fun when we can’t see what’s going on. That isn’t the case here. All of the characters have something to do here. There are plenty of foot chases, car chases and even a few nice fist fights. The climax takes on what seems like one of the longest runways in movie history. The film is just over two hours and some scenes run a little long, but it’s never to the point of exhaustion. Anyone seeing a film called Fast and Furious 6 likely suspended disbelief long ago.
Note: This disc includes not only the theatrical version, but also an extended cut. Both versions are the same length, but the extended cut adds a few subtle changes to some of the action scenes. Since the running time remains the same for both versions, it’s obvious the extended cut is the way to go. Be sure to stick around through the end credits (on either cut of the film) for a scene that sets the stage for the 7th installment.
Video: How’s it look?
Amazing is the first word I can think of to describe the transfer on this disc. Universal has once again done a fine job. The AVC encoded (2.39:1) transfer displays a wide range of deep, rich colors throughout. There are a few scenes near the ocean that lend themselves nicely to the HD format. The clear blue skies and crystal clean ocean water show fine details in these scenes. Both Diesel and Johnson’s hairlines show fine distinction here. The stubble around their receding hairlines is easy to spot. Facial detail is strong and flesh tones accurate. There’s a smooth look to the whole thing and the print used is pristine. This is a first-rate transfer.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The DTS HD track kicks off right from the start. Vocals are always strong, but really, the action is what fans have come to expect and this track more than delivers. Background details are always evident with exhaust pipes and tires screeching. There’s not a moment where this track shows restraint, it’s consistently involving and makes great use of all channels. The bass kicks in on more than a few occasions and adds an appropriate boost to the film.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc comes with a nice assortment of extras. In addition to having both cuts of the film, it’s loaded with featurettes and a solid commentary track. The copy I reviewed came in a “Limited Edition” steel-book case. Some retailers such as Walmart and Best Buy will have their own exclusives, but there’s also a standard that will be available. For those who prefer the regular Blu-ray case can opt for that one which will probably cost a bit less. This set includes a DVD copy and a Digital copy insert.
Audio Commentary – Director Justin Lin provides a commentary track here. It’s exclusive to the extended cut.
Deleted Scenes – Only 3 short scenes here that don’t even total 2 minutes. These were wisely deleted.
Fast and Furious 7 Preview – This is a clip from the 7th film coming out next summer. It’s interesting to see.
Take Control – Is a sort of video commentary feature that includes some of the cast discussing scenes that play on the screen behind them. This was a good feature, but a bit too self congratulatory. It does offer a nice time-line of all six films.
Making of Fast and Furious 6 – This is broken into 4 parts and largely focuses on getting the cast back together among other things.
Planes, Tanks, and automobiles – This is also broken up into 4 parts. These focus more on the stunts. They’re worth a look if you’re curious about how the stunts were done. I’m not.
It’s All About the Cars – Broken into 3 parts and offers specifics about some of the vehicles used throughout the films.
Hand to Hand Fury – Looks at some of the martial arts used throughout the film.