The following contains spoilers.
The Rotten Tomatoes critical consensus for Fast & Furious 6 states, “With high-octane humor and terrific action scenes, Fast & Furious 6 builds upon the winning blockbuster formula that made Fast 5 a critical and commercial success.” What is the “winning blockbuster formula?” I’d suggest it is humor, action, and sexy girls and guys (for the ladies turnout accounted for 49% of the audience over its reported $98.6 million three-day weekend haul) and most importantly, giving the audience what they want and expect.
Because that’s the main positive review you will see in perusing the critical aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reviews for the film; Fast & Furious 6 knows exactly what it is and is it. In contrast, here is the critical consensus for The Hangover Part III, “Less a comedy than an angrily dark action thriller, The Hangover Part III diverges from the series’ rote formula but offers nothing compelling in its place.” Clearly to critics, the film strayed from its formula and as such, one could say the film doesn’t know what it wants to be and clearly, that’s reflective in the lessened box office receipts ($51.2 million over the same three-day weekend frame).
Everyone acknowledges that much of the action in the film is absurd and ridiculous, but they expect it, nevertheless, because that’s what the movies are all about: huge set pieces, fast cars and ass-kicking. And it offers all of that in abundance with the return of Vin Diesel, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and other ass-kickers including a series return for Michelle Rodriguez and new addition, Gina Carano, former MMA fighter.
However, there’s also a little something else thrown into the blockbuster mix, which I think has fans coming back for each new installment: family. The fans love this cast of characters. There’s a reason 2006’s Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is by far the worst commercially successful film of the franchise, as it didn’t feature Vin Diesel or Paul Walker.
This idea of family is also reflected in the ethos of Dominic Toretto played by Diesel. The film’s villain, Shaw, played by Luke Evans, in a tense exchange between the two, says to him, “This code you live by makes you predictable. In our line of work predictable makes you vulnerable.” At least, he does praise him prior to that with having a code, as many men don’t even have that, but the code he is talking about is of course loyalty to family, which is what the entire plot centers around. Toretto’s crew in helping Hobbs track down Shaw are also trying to bring back one of their own family members from the series’ past, Letty.
In one particular scene that highlights exactly what fans want out of this series, Vin Diesel and Johnson’s characters team up to take down Shaw and his enormous muscleman, Klaus, and at that point, when the showdown was imminent, there were audible cheers of elation throughout the theater I was at. And the fight lived up to the hype, as it indeed had me on the literal edge of my seat.
Such elation happened again when post-credits, Jason Statham blew up Han in Tokyo and essentially calls out Toretto. So, there will be a seventh in the series. That much was obvious the moment Fast and Furious 5 made the money it did. And to be honest, I could not be happier. The films are fun summer action flicks that know who they are and are damn proud of it. Plus, Jason Statham, at least among action film circles, is a total bad-ass fan favorite. That’s a great steal to keep the momentum going for this franchise.
After tanks and planes though, surely for Fast and Furious 7, they’re going to need to take down a cruise liner or a space shuttle at this rate.