I was a junior in high school when I went to see The Fast and the Furious in theaters. It’s been a while, but I remember something about an undercover cop joining an underground street racing gang in Los Angeles. People raced for each other’s cars. Honda Civics could drive right under the beds of sixteen-wheelers. And every vehicle came equipped with Nos, some sort of a magic gas that gave an extra speed boost, essential to coming from behind to win a drag race.
Fast forward ten years to Fast & Furious 6. Most of the original cast is still here, Vin Diesel, the other guy, the girl (although she has amnesia, which we’re reminded of every ten minutes or so.) The Rock’s part of the crew now. So is Ludacris. I don’t know, maybe I missed something during parts two through five. Aside from the familiar faces and the close-up shots of people shifting gears, I really don’t get how things could have connected from point A to point wherever we are now.
But it totally doesn’t matter. Fast 6 is a standalone movie. You don’t need to know anything about the franchise, I don’t even think you need to speak English. You just sit back and you watch cars go fast, you watch things blow up, you watch crazy fight scenes.
The plot has about as much to do with actual storytelling as iceberg lettuce has to do with being a vegetable. It’s green, yeah, and I guess it came from the ground, but it has zero in the way of nutritional value, it’s just a means to devour as much salad dressing as you want. The story has something to do with Vin Diesel’s racing gang trying to take down a criminal racing gang. The evil gang is trying to steal some sort of a military computer chip. They never really hone in on the specifics, but it’s a really valuable and powerful computer chip.
It just reminds me how far we’ve come from the first movie. I clearly remember a scene in part one where Vin Diesel and the other guy are standing around an old PC, bewildered as some hacker nerd guy explains that, “You can find anything on the net.” They’ve since caught up with the technology. Ludacris is constantly surrounded by at least a dozen computer screens. The bad guys have guns that fire computer chips onto cars, “chip-guns” I think they’re called. Again, I’m not certain about the specifics, but they can somehow disable any car’s computers.
Fast 6 is an action movie that has a very loose affiliation with cars and racing. The bad guy has a car. There are a lot of chase scenes. They do manage to squeeze in one underground drag race, but they never explain stuff like, where’s the course? How do the drivers know where they’re going as they swerve into oncoming traffic and try to lose the cops? Why can’t the racers ever figure out that whoever uses their Nos first always winds up losing?
But like I said, all of this stuff is unimportant. Pass me the salad dressing. I want to see more explosions. I want to see The Rock jump from one car to another. Anytime he tells someone else to, “Take the wheel!” it’s a sure sign that he’s seconds away from dramatically exiting the vehicle. As I’m sure you’ve seen from every preview and commercial, there’s a tank. It flattens every car that it comes into contact with. Except for the car being driven by a member of the good crew. This car gets slowly eaten, giving the good guys a fighting chance at survival.
Why is everybody so concerned with keeping this computer chip out of the hands of the bad guys? “It’s about family,” Vin Diesel tells us, I think. It’s hard to understand him, because he’s always talking in this barely audible baritone whisper. The director must have told him to take a handful of Nyquil before every shoot, because it’s all Diesel can do to spit his words out.
“It’s about having a code,” the bad guy tells us, over and over and over again. “My brother once told me that it’s essential for every man to have a code.” And he’s not talking in the abstract at all. He’s serious about his codes. “Mine is precision,” whatever that means.
But seriously, it doesn’t matter. This movie is absolutely bat-shit crazy, and it’s totally on purpose. It would have been terrible had anybody taken anything going on in this film seriously. I was dizzy, because the cameras are constantly circling around everything, swooping around the action scenes, swirling around people standing still talking to each other. Watching Fast 6 is like riding the Gravitron at a local carnival. What’s the point? Who thought of this shit? I liked it, I think, even though I’m kind of nauseous, and the whole place was way too crowded. Can I ride it again?