Sunday, May 26, 2013

Selma Ruins Fast and Furious Six

Let me give you a quick rundown of the things that do not function in the Fast 6 universe as they do in ours:

  • physics
  • guns
  • anatomy
  • geography
  • technology
  • reality
Trying to explain the plot of this movie is like trying to paint with jellyfish. You could try, but you'd just hurt yourself, and why are you doing that anyway?

But I love you all, so I will try.

Roll call! From left to right: Heel-Face-Turn McGee,
The Hot One, Donatello, European Accent, Lestrade, Vin Diesel,
The Rock, Looks like Vampire Diaries, and That Guy I'm Pretty Sure
Was in That Movie About Cheating on the SAT
I'm glad the movie starts off with a convenient montage to let us know that the laws of physics are no longer in effect. Vin and Brian (ex-cop) are honeymooning in Spain, possibly as a threesome since Brian's wife keeps calling them a family. And Brian gives the "you don't know what you got till it's gone" speech... to Vin. I'm sure his wife appreciates that.

Then again... maybe she does.
Meanwhile, somewhere institutional, people keep handing The Rock files that he can crib the script off of. Vin's ex-wife through temporary deadness has been spotted, so The Rock leverages Vin into working for him to take down this ex-SAS guy that cannot decide on an accent. Is he British? Well, the script says so, but his accent seems to be aiming for a mix of German and vaguely Eastern European.

We do the Ocean's Eleven roundup, and the only thing I learn is that Roman is hot and product placement is the 10th main character in this universe. Did you know that bazillionaires still use Nokia brick phones?

See that blue thing in the barrel? Yeah, that's a NOS bottle.
45 minutes in, this movie remembers it's about CARS! The family's brilliant plan is apparently to let the London cops do all the work for them. ...Okay, fair. But then end up getting involved since the bad guy invented a go-cart racer that flips sedans. This has a pretty easy solution since The Rock has no problems keeping up in his armored truck.

Our resident ex-cop has apparently forgotten how guns work, since he tries to shoot a sniper using a long-distance assault weapon WITH A HANDGUN. 

I so wish I was kidding.
The Rock saves Brian by leaping off his truck, off a bridge, onto a speeding car. Thankfully, his biceps protect him from harm. Sadly, Vin's ex-wife Letty has gone over to the dark side and shoots him in the shoulder. Which he walks off. Literally. And pulls the bullet out himself. And sticks one of these on it. 

Dude, I routinely make more of a fuss over splinters than this guy makes over a freaking gunshot wound. Roman is all, "When a woman starts shooting at you, that's a clear sign to back the hell off."

But Vin is all, "You don't turn your back on family." Jesus, these guys are more loyal than the Scooby gang.
"It's okay! We can fix her!"
Roman and SAT guy go out with European girl and The Rock's personality-void but awesome henchwoman. There's actually some fairly funny and relevant banter about the ladies taking on a baddie because "He's a man." Roman objects to this, saying, "I don't know, it's just disrespectful. He's a man. What's that supposed to mean?"

The ladies kick ass and take names (seriously, they don't mess around. It's a visit to PainTown, population: him), and the boys nom popcorn and appreciate from afar. I could see how you could call this fetishizing or trivializing, but honestly, I'm okay with it. I'd much rather that movies show men appreciating capable, competent women for their talents.

And I like what happens next even better - a flock of bad guys appear, and instead of racing to help the ladies, the boys assume that they'll take care of themselves and race after the Big Bad. The movie doesn't make a big deal about it, they just go their separate ways, but I really like that touch.

Then there's parallel fight scenes between Henchwoman/Letty and Roman/SAT/Big Bad. Both fights are treated with equal respect (no respect for the mechanics of actual fighting, but, uh... you win some you lose some). It's a good scene, although plotwise it makes zero sense and has no impact on anything.

Next there's a drag racing scene, which proves that nobody involved with this movie has ever actually been to London. Vin and Letty do the talking thing... AHAHAHAHA OH MY GOD THE CAR HAS NOS BOTTLES BUILT INTO IT. 

I cannot even describe to you how much I am not kidding.
Vin and Letty talk, and then Big Bad and Vin talk, and then Vin and The Rock talk, and OH MY GOD THIS SCENE GOES ON AND ON AND ONNNNNNN. I don't pay you to talk, I pay you to look good and flip cars!

Okay so FINALLY it looks like we might get to wrap this up. Brian went to jail, where he learned that Letty lost her memories in the most convenient accident ever, and Big Bad didn't kill her because he... somehow found this out... and for some reason cared... I guess maybe we're supposed to think that he kept her around to manipulate Vin with, but honestly, that's giving this movie way more credit than I'm comfortable with.

There's a chase scene where a tank explodes out of an armored lorry on a bridge. And Vin jumps out of his car, across the bridge, catches Letty in midair, and slams them down onto a car windshield.

Letty: "How did you know that car would be there to break our fall?"
Vin: "That car would break our fall only in the sense that it would break all our bones just as efficiently as the concrete. Assuming that I could vault into the air off a sedan speeding 80mph. Across a bridge. And grab onto you in mid-air without ripping my limbs off. Um. I mean - some things you have to take on faith?"

Brian learns absolutely nothing of value in jail and comes back just in time for Big Bad to kidnap his wife and get her to shriek down the phone at him. Family comes first, so to hell with the millions of people he might kill with this doomsday device (doomsday computer chip just doesn't have the same ring), give him what he wants!

A plane comes to pick up Big Bad, and the family races after him because now they've decided that he'll kill Brian's wife if they DON'T take the chip back. Couldn't have decided this before, guys? Could have just, idk, held a gun to his head while he was handcuffed? No? Okay.

Basically there's a lot of this:


No, really.

Like, seriously.

Oh for F*$% sake.
European Accent falls off a car speeding a million miles per hour, but since everybody else does this too, it seems very unfair that this apparently kills her. Still, Vin zooms out of a flying on-fire plane and manages to keep track of the doomsday device at the same time, and then there's a BBQ, so... all's swell that ends swell, I guess.

It's hard to hate this movie. The plot only seems to have a vague idea of how the real world operates, and I'm fairly sure The Rock had a bet to speak dialogue that only came out of Hallmark cards ("You need a wolf to catch a wolf"), and it's just... stupid. The characters aren't tremendously likable, and other than Roman, Vin, and Letty, are completely forgettable.

But at the same time, Fast 6 does have a little bit of heart that's hard to ignore. It really believes in its family message, and that plays out more believably than it could, probably because of how forgettable these characters are. You feel like an outsider looking in on a comfortable group of friends as you watch. You don't really care about them all that much, because they're not capable of that kind of charisma, but you understand that they're a tight-knit group.

And believe it or not, this movie passes the Bechdel test, both in letter and in spirit. The women are generally treated as characters, not props. The movie is actually surprisingly uplifting from an "issue" standpoint - two black characters get the chance to show up a snotty white guy, the movie chooses not to use sexual assault as a casual plot point - which I appreciate immensely, there's a variety of ethnicities just existing in the movie much like they do in the real world rather than being chosen to fulfill a stereotype, and the women act like actual human beings.

Final conclusion? I'm buying the soundtrack.

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