The fact is I cannot explain in any cohesive way what Fast & Furious 6 is about. That’s okay, because the movie can’t explain itself either. When taking on reviewing every piece of the franchise, I knew I’d encounter something like a memory-fogged fatigue where everything blends into the next, where a sequence as flashy as taking on a militarized tank on a highway mixes into my memory bank of so much other vehicular mayhem. The one dominant memory of Fast & Furious 6 is that it has a single sequence as the core excuse for the rest of the movie.
The make-and-break scene is a fantastic airplane chase along a seemingly never ending runway. As the lengthy sequence goes further and further, you think, maybe they captured as much footage as they could to tightly edit it into a concise package and decided, all of this is good, let’s pretend this is the longest runway in the world. And it’s an absolutely enthralling series of events. They get such great—and literal—mileage out of this set piece, one of my favorite action set pieces of all time, that it remains the one resounding memory of a scatterbrained film with more big ideas than sense.
Fast & Furious 6 hopes we do not remember very much from earlier entries in the franchise, as it recasts the always game Michelle Rodriguez as Letty… the same Rodriguez as Letty who died and has now been brought back because that’s what we want anyway.
It is no coincidence this is a film about memory loss, especially about Rodriguez reconnecting with Vin Diesel, when the crew remembered this was a series about family, and needed to fill out the script. So forgive our blank expressions when we realize that nothing is so permanent in the series—until the tragic events surrounding the next film—and have experienced a kind of vicarious memory wipe, in trade with one of our favorite characters.
The other thing about Fast & Furious 6 is it’s the last of the series to have a dedicated setting. The events of the film significantly circulate around London, leading up to a phenomenal post credits reveal. Warning: spoilers here: what happens after the credits is that the superbly named Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) takes out Tokyo Drift stalwart Han Lue (Sung Kang). (If we have selective amnesia, could we have him back please?) The pairing of London leading to this big sell for the British actor works entirely as intended. This pivotal moment marks the end of director Justin Lin’s time with the series, and so he takes the character he’s cultivated with him.
Lin had a beautiful run with the franchise. Of his work, Tokyo Drift and Fast Five remain the best throughout the entire series, while Fast & Furious and Fast & Furious 6 are muddled examples of revisionist filmmaking. It has two final moments of high-impact that really sell off the idea that we had a good time, but the rest of the time we may struggle to remember what it was we loved about these in the first place, until we’re finally reminded it’s all about family and fun.