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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

The Grating Toretto, by Nick Carraway (Fast & Furious 6 review)

Fast and Furious 6 red light

I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): Fast the First was fun; the franchise is picking up speed rolling downhill
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

The elephant in the pop-culture room at the moment is the obvious fact that Fast and Furious 6 and The Great Gatsby are the same movie. So I invited Nick Carraway to guest-review Furious.

Though I am by nature a man inclined to reserve judgments, I found myself instantly moved to astonishment by the gaudy spectacle of this tale. It is a colossal affair swollen with the hubris and arrogance of men who swagger across the planet trailing the foul dust of mayhem and death in their wake. And proudly so, it would seem to the more modest eye that cannot fathom such monstrosity in the cause of mere diversion from the mundanities of the world, an affliction that would appear to distress not only those observers who might turn to it for a satisfactory distraction but those ennui-rattled men of whom the tale speaks.

Dominic Toretto is a hard man, a hulking brute ill-suited to the life of comfort he has arranged for himself on the soaring cliffsides above the turquoise waters of the Canary Islands. Most agree that he arose from a hardscrabble life out West, and nothing in his uncouth manners would put lie to that, though the fetid bursts of whispered gossip that cling to his person like a flurry of arrest warrants struggle to elucidate his life beyond that. Some insist that he exhibited a certain wretched athleticism as a racer of illegally souped-up automobiles in illicit street races in the untamed wilds of Los Angeles; others that he was a mastermind robber of banks amongst the glittering metropolises of South America. The extremes of such fantasies, appealing to a low sort of imagination, I suppose, illustrate the scope of the mystery Toretto holds for some, even if we consider the impossibility that both extremes could hold even a soupçon of truth.

It seems a vast certainty to me, however, that a man of Toretto’s infamy could not long take his ease before the lure of criminal labors along the parlous edges of civilized society would tempt him again. His weaknesses would barely seem to require additional inducement, and yet here is such in the form of Letty Ortiz, a secretly fragile girl who subsumes her feminine vulnerability beneath a carapace of willfully extruded insouciance, a butterfly who has retreated back into her pupa at the injustices of a society deaf to the particular needs of women. Toretto loved her once, or so it’s put about, and there was an understanding between them. Or perhaps not, for Letty abandoned Toretto only to resurface now, a dolphin rising above the deceptive calm of the sea striving for air and sun, in the company of one Owen Shaw, though succor will not be hers to find.

“Toretto? What Toretto?” Letty might well cry, for the smothering embrace of life with men such as these has induced in her a form of protective amnesia, lest she drown in the wash of their accumulated villainy. For Shaw is an even darker shadow of Toretto, a man who haunts the capitals of Europe seeking power of the vilest sort, his terrible crimes thus far but a means to accreting a terrorizing might with which he aims to, dare I say it, rule the world.

Thus is a chessboard of masculine battle set, a competition between two men of the most unpleasant sort for the heart of desperate girl not so foolish as she might wish to be, as any girl might wish to be when the likes of a Toretto and a Shaw vie for her soul.

It is a folly of our era that such men are able to give voice to their most natural and expected of human longings only through excess. Mute with their own powerlessness of feeling, Toretto and Shaw bestir themselves to communicate through the shiny vapid coldness of vehicular warfare, a battlefield of confused desires expressed on a canvas of metallic carnage overlain with the choking stench of exploding petrol. Suppressed rage and denial of childlike fear bursts out of damaged men automotively, fecklessly absent of any concern for the countless anonymous wounded they leave behind. And yet they find a philosophy in the externalization of their inner violence: “Show me how you drive, and I’ll show you who you are,” Toretto promises the hapless Letty. The Kaiser would surely approve of such tactics, but what sensate witness?

It is another folly of the era to raise one’s voice in opposition to such men or tales of them, for they feed the unfathomable emptiness that afflicts the masses, the sundering voiceless fury that knows not whether to embrace or reject the annealing of our collective conscience to furthering iniquity and knows only to howl at it. “Is that legal?” one representative of entrenched law enforcement inquires, prompted by an act of his fellow that would once have been seen as unquestionably in the demesne of the scoundrel yet now serves only as a cynically humorous reminder of a lost idealism.

We few may beat on, boats against the current, but we will drown in it all the same.

see also:

The Fast and the Furious and 2 Fast 2 Furious (review)
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (review)
Fast & Furious (review)
Fast Five (aka Fast and Furious 5: Rio Heist) (review)
Fast & Furious 7 (aka Furious 7) movie review: head-on vehicular hard-on
Fast & Furious 8 (aka The Fate of the Furious) movie review: notes from the critics’ ward

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Fast and Furious 6 (2013) | directed by Justin Lin
US/Can release: May 24 2013
UK/Ire release: May 17 2013

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated ADDA (contains attention-deficit-disorder action)
MPAA: rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action and mayhem throughout, some sexuality and language
BBFC: rated 12A (contains frequent moderate violence and one use of strong language)

viewed in 2D
viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

  • b.lynch black

    brilliant! i nominate you to write the script for the next movie based on the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald .

  • Mike

    So comparing fast and furious to gatsby allowed you to do your Fitzgerald impression a week late. It’s like coming up with a good comeback to an insult and working on it for a week and then coming back and saying your brilliant insult completely out of context.

  • RogerBW

    The book was better. In the original French, obviously.

  • robin wood

    does this character have anything to say about the film making or are you having too much fun?

  • Surprised you feel the franchise is rolling downhill. The first Fast and the Furious is boring, and with the exception of 4, have only gotten better.

  • one can be a fan of Gatsby the novel and Fast/Furious the films (I profess a fondness for F/F 2 meself) and still appreciate the mixing of the two storylines. There is, indeed, a grossness of both the rich world of Gatsby and the self-absorbed Furious crew that make them so similar (the shots of gyrating dancing women, the Bacchanalia atmospheres, the reckless driving).

    I got no problems with MaryAnn’s review. I just wish she included more explosions, and an exaltation of the green light at the end of Daisy’s street.

  • too much fun.

  • I’m not sure what you mean by “a week late.” If you’re referring to the fact that Gatsby opened in the US last week… well, the US is not the center of the world, and in fact, Gatsby and Furious 6 open simultaneously in the UK this weekend. The London press screening of Furious for most press was on Monday night, and the London press screening of Gatsby for most press was on Wednesday night, so I saw both films within 48 hours of each other.

    But even if that were not the case: Gatsby and Furious 6 open only two weeks apart in the US (Gatsby last week, Furious next week). If you think that’s not just about simultaneous as far as most people are concerned — for most people do not see films in theaters but on DVD — I honestly don’t know what to say to you.

    If I’ve misinterpreted your comment, I apologize.

  • It’s interesting that you think Nick doesn’t have anything to say about “the filmmaking.”

  • The first film was the only one that was any good. It had a cheesy sort of small-scale charm. The films have gotten increasingly ridiculous as the franchise has gone on.

  • the rook

    i think she should write the next review as hemingway.

  • It was. It is. There will. A man drinks to remember and not forget. He dreamt of lions being in the film. After a time, it rained.

  • ‘Letty abandoned Toretto only to resurface now’, if I remember rightly it was the other way round. So much so that I believe the phrase “Ride or die”, which is uttered by Toretto in FF6 was actually originally said by Letty in Fast & Furious (FF4) before Toretto abandoned her.

    Another thing, this film is quite clearly aimed toward a certain demographic that, by the look of your picture and the tone and vocabulary of this ‘review’, you clearly do not belong to. Maybe I am biased as I believe I am part of that demographic (young adult male interested in fast-paced action, explosions, ‘the Rock’ and most obviously cars) but I still think it wrong that you have not seemed to express how the movie would appeal to the given audience it was set out for (without almost directly insulting them).

    Quite frankly, by reading your article I can see that you dislike the film but as implied by my above messages, have you actually watched/remembered the previous films before watching this one and do you really understand who the film is aimed at. My review of your review: an unimpressive 4/10

  • You should read some of my other reviews, icluding of this franchise. I liked the first film. I also like plenty of other action movies. Coherence and something to say beyond “*BOOM*” is usually a requirement for me, however.

    And now, I’m going to let you in on a secret: I am not a mindreader. I wouldn’t presume to be able to say what some entire nebulous demographic — such as “young adult male” — is going to make of a movie. (And, frankly, the notion that all “young adult males” think alike is preposterous. You wouldn’t find it insulting to be told that you must think in lockstop with millions of other people based solely on a few very broad similarities of biology and age?)

    I can only tell you what *I* think of a film. You are perfectly welcome to ignore my reviews based on my photo and vocabulary, however. In fact, it’s probably best if you did, and found another critic whose opinion more aligns with yours. I mean, that’s why there are so many critics, because we’re all different and don’t all agree on all films.

  • Kris Williamson

    Mr. Steinacher’s comment is a perfect example of something I find myself increasingly making note of, which is how many commenters on websites don’t add anything by way of opinion on the topic of the post or opinion of the points made by the person writing the post. Rather, they express in their comment either a critique of the poster’s writing skills or the poster’s moral integrity and whether the poster is worthy to make express an opinion at all. By choosing to read a post I believe most people have made a decision that the person writing is worthy to express an opinion [note – *opinion*]. And who does anyone think they are that they think they need to tell me or anyone else whether a poster is a good enough writer or not. That is an opinion I can formulate for myself, thank you very much.

  • Alex

    A bad movie can be aimed to people who would enjoy it, and you as a critic might find it appalling. I’ve seen some of these movies, I know some enjoy them, I can see what they enjoy, and I completely hate them and I have my well defined reasons for it. The critic is giving her reasons for it. It would be irresponsible of her to say the movie is good because some people it is aimed for should like it.

  • For me, the ridiculousness is the appeal.

  • Josh Board

    This review was hysterical! I have never in my life wished I had thought of an idea as much as the one this critic used for this review. Bravo!

  • singlestick

    So far, for me, Fast and Furious 6 is the most enjoyable movie of the summer. Not the best or best crafted, but the most enjoyable and engaging. “Iron Man 3” was good, but the last stretch was kinda boring, sloppily shot and edited, and a magic wand was waved to do (spoilery stuff here) things that resolved plot developments relating to Pepper Potts and Tony Stark. The “extra” end of credits sequence was frankly lame. “Star Trek Into Darkness” was fun and has a great villain, but was clearly made by people who hate and fear science fiction. I watched some of the big set pieces in the film and noted how impressive they were, but also how pointless and plodding they were (a star ship, underwater… Please!)

    And one of the things that I most hated about new Trek, that a professional star ship crew had to be reduced to a “family” was insufferably stupid. And yet, the idea that the Fast and Furious crew was a family makes sense. The action was well staged, and the fight scenes were outstanding. And while having Pepper don the Iron Man gear was a reasonable crowd pleaser, it wasn’t really logical given the movie’s mythology and the movie strains to have you see her as a strong female character. By contrast, the female characters in Fast and Furious 6 not only can kick butt with the best of them, their actions, motivations and desires are essential to the narrative.

    The bottom line: the diverse (in age, ethnicity and gender) crowd I saw the movie with were engaged and thrilled, and just when they thought that they were sated, got a brief “after the credits” moment that not only had them jumping in their seats, but eager to buy tickets for Fast and Furious 7.

    And that’s what you want in a summer movie.

  • AJ

    A brilliant analysis by Nick Carraway. A more brilliant idea to utilize Mr. Carraway. Bravo.

  • uunkoke

    So cleverly done, MJ, and all the more impressive once I realized just who Nick is. His review of Gatsby is equally insightful, or rather I should say, your use of him for this review finally helped me “get” Gatsby. Now having read this review and having previously seen Redford’s Gatsby, I think I can safely skip both FaF6 and the new Gatsby. Thank you.

  • uunkoke

    p.s. re Nick Carraway. My research into his broader bibliography unearthed this interesting read: http://www.salon.com/2013/01/09/was_nick_carraway_gay/

  • uunkoke

    I read this a little differently. Instead of being a Fitzgerald impression, I saw it as pulling double duty as a Gatsby review.
    Hilarious, either way.

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