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Fast & Furious 6 Blu-ray Review - Recommended

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#1 of 1 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

Kevin EK

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Posted December 16 2013 - 03:25 PM

Fast & Furious 6 Blu-ray Review - Recommended

Fast & Furious 6 offers tanks to its fans on Blu-ray in an edition that offers the movie in solid high definition and includes a generous spread of special features. The movie itself isn’t quite as fun as its predecessor, Fast Five, and it bogs down at several points along the way during its two-hour plus length. But it does continue to benefit from the easy chemistry of the cast and a few good fight scenes and chases along the way. Some of the chases are starting to get into the territory of science fiction, but there’s still plenty of gas left in this engine. Fans of the series will no doubt already be grabbing copies of this one or putting it on their lists. Given the amount of material, this is an easy title to Recommend for purchase – if not for the movie itself, for all the material that surrounds it here. And I should note that the Blu-ray includes a 2 minute scene from the next film, Fast & Furious 7. It’s not listed on the packaging, but it’s very much on the Blu-ray.


Cover Art


Studio: Anchor Bay

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, English DVS 2.0, Spanish 5.1 DTS, French 5.1 DTS

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Rating: PG-13

Run Time: 2 Hrs. 11 Mins. (Both versions)

Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, UltraViolet

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: ABC

Release Date: 12/10/2013

MSRP: $34.98




The Production Rating: 3/5

The short version of this story is that Fast & Furious 6 is a good movie but not the equal of its predecessor, Fast Five, when it comes to sheer fun and inventiveness. As the series model has now transitioned from a street racing/car culture idea to an ensemble heist thriller with cars around the edges, the success of each movie depends on the heist in question, and on how inventive the filmmakers can be in staging it. This time around, the action has shifted to Europe, mostly staging in and around London as notorious British mercenary Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) plots to steal a key piece of computer technology. Given the threat, agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) recruits our heroes Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian (Paul Walker) and their team to go after Shaw’s crew. As one might expect from these movies, hijinks ensue. The twist here is that Shaw’s lead team member is none other than Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), who everyone including the audience presumed dead back in the 2009 Fast & Furious movie. There are some good moments along the way, a solid dramatic confrontation between Diesel and Evans midway through the movie, and plenty of outrageous car stunts to keep viewers’ attention. There’s even the obligatory street race, this time supposedly happening in London between Dom and Letty. (And there’s a few good shots of them blasting through Piccadilly Circus) But it just doesn’t have the momentum or the spark of the prior movie and some of the action sequences push things way past the point of believability. That said, fans of the series will still enjoy this installment, if only for the way it sets up what will follow in Fast & Furious 7.

SPOILERS HERE: DO NOT READ THIS PARAGRAPH UNTIL YOU HAVE SEEN THE MOVIE. There are two major problems happening with this movie. The first is that it’s simply too long and overblown for what is essentially a flimsy story. So multiple scenes drone on past the point where they are effective, including one bit between Ludacris, Dwayne Johnson and a prissy auctioneer that starts out fine but beats itself to death. Beyond that, there’s an issue of having sequences and story points that completely defy reality. The Fast & Furious movies have never been long on believability, but this one really pushes it over the edge at multiple points. We are asked to accept that Letty Ortiz somehow survived her murder in the fourth film and that somehow she has completely lost her memory while retaining her basic identity. So she is taken out of a hospital in Mexico and spirited off to Europe to work on Shaw’s crew how? And we are asked to believe that she has total amnesia but still has all of her abilities intact. The concept simply falls apart in execution. It’s understandable that the filmmakers didn’t want the clichéd “I remember” scene, but the alternative they’ve chosen is bizarre. To help sell the story of how Letty wound up in this situation, the movie takes the outrageous step of having Brian return to the states to have himself put in prison for a weekend, just so he can question crime boss Braga (John Ortiz, returning from the 4th movie) in prison. We are expected to believe that O’Conner could somehow swing himself into solitary confinement in the exact same prison as Braga and have a guaranteed release the next morning. The actual confrontation with Braga is actually a good scene, with Ortiz enjoying every moment of tormenting his opponent. (O’Conner says “We buried Letty” and Braga responds “You buried SOMETHING. I couldn’t tell you who or what it was…”) But this scene leaves much larger questions – such as how nobody ever tied Braga and Shaw together if they were as connected as this movie insists they are.

MORE SPOILERS: Things get a lot sillier with the climactic pair of action sequences. First there’s a wild chase down a European highway with Shaw’s crew attacking a military convoy to steal that computer chip out from under the British. This is all well and good, until we see Shaw blast out of the main transport vehicle with a full-size TANK. The idea of having a high speed chase with a tank is ridiculous on its face, and it gets even stranger if you think about the idea of the military holding their prize chip inside the tank inside the other vehicle. In reality, you’d just have the tank on the road, not put it inside another vehicle. Granted, it’s a fun reveal – but it’s so far outside the bounds of reality that the whole sequence becomes cartoonish. Further, we are asked to believe in several completely impossible stunt escapes from crashes, jumps and other bits of acrobatics that take the whole thing way over the line. By the end of the chase, the viewer is left wondering how anyone could have survived this situation. And the movie tops this idea with the big finish – a heist chase with a Russian cargo plane down what seems to be an endless runway. In this case, we are asked to believe that Dom’s crew could keep that plane on the ground by shooting a couple of javelins into the wings and not having the force of the plane’s momentum simply rip those out of the vehicles. We are asked to believe that some people can survive giant falls from the moving plane to vehicles outside, while other people (the bad guys) are killed. And we are of course asked to believe that somewhere in Great Britain, there is a runway that must be about 30 miles long, given that this sequence happens on a long straight runway and never stops.

FINAL SPOILERS: The closing moments of the movie at least bring things full circle. There’s a nice touch in returning the crew to Los Angeles, to the original house where the first movie was set, for a “family” gathering that shows how far things have come, and how little has changed. (I should note that the filmmakers wound up rebuilding the garage at the location, since the property owners had torn it down sometime in the last decade…) And in a post-credits sequence, we finally bring the series full circle to the end of Fast & Furious 3: Tokyo Drift. Fans of the series have noted that all the movies since Tokyo must take place earlier than that film, due to the crash that kills the character of Han. At multiple times, they’ve hinted at Han going to Tokyo to square this, but they’ve repeatedly brought the character back and put off the inevitable. At the end of this movie, a heartbroken Han finally is set to go there, and in the middle of the end credits, director Justin Lin ties in that crash to what we have seen in the 6th movie. Because it is that crash, and the man who caused it, that will be the focus of Fast & Furious 7. Given that Luke Evans was not that strong of a central villain, it appears that they’ve selected a much tougher opponent for the new film. If they follow up with a strong story, they might have a better movie for fans in another year or two.

SPOILERS DONE.

Before getting into the technical and bonus features material, I should take a minute to acknowledge the reality of what has been happening with the cast and the production of the seventh film. First, it’s a fairly well-known fact that Universal has been rushing to get the next film ready for a release date in July 2014. To this end, they rushed into production this fall, without taking the normal time to prepare the movie. (Prior segments have involved a year or two of development before going before the cameras. This time around, they took maybe three months, which is an extremely accelerated schedule for a heavy action film.) The result of the rushed schedule has been that Justin Lin refused to do the new movie, declaring his work on the series finished as of the end of the sixth film. (And he’s now listed by Universal to direct the next Bourne movie…) In his stead, the filmmakers hired horror director James Wan (of Saw infamy), fresh from his success with The Conjuring this year. Filming was apparently halfway completed when actor Paul Walker was killed in a car accident over Thanksgiving weekend. That accident, ironically involving a high performance Porsche on city streets in Valencia, has resulted in the seventh film being shut down until the new year. Universal has not officially announced a revised release date, but it’s obvious that they will be unable to deliver a movie that quickly unless they have a ridiculously short post production schedule. If I had to guess, I would think they’ll try to get a release date for the 2014 holiday season – or if they are unable to accomplish that, they may push off to 2015. Decisions will need to be made at the script and production level of how they can deal with the loss of Paul Walker’s character, Brian O’Conner. Given what we know of the new film, this situation sadly lines up with the theme already in play for the story.

I should also note that Universal has announced they will donate some of the proceeds of sales of Fast & Furious 6 on home video to Paul Walker’s charity, Reach Out Worldwide.

Fast & Furious 6 has been released simultaneously on Blu-ray and standard definition this past week. The Blu-ray has everything from the standard DVD, and adds high definition picture and sound, along with several Blu-ray exclusive featurettes. Unlike the previous installments, there is no U-Control material, and no Second Screen functionality.

Two versions of the film are available on the Blu-ray. One is the theatrical version, rated PG-13. The other is an unrated extended version, running about the same length and containing many shots that have been enhanced with CGI blood. Justin Lin’s commentary is only available on the extended version.



Video Rating: 4.5/5  3D Rating: NA

Fast & Furious 6 is presented in a 1080p AVC 2.35:1 transfer that brings in multiple environments and flesh tones in a vivid and satisfying manner. A lot of this movie takes place at night, and the transfer delivers pleasingly deep black levels. The greenscreen work done at various points in the movie doesn’t show its seams. As usual for this series, this is a satisfying presentation.



Audio Rating: 5/5

Fast & Furious 6 is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix in English, as well as standard DTS mixes in Spanish and French, and an English DVS track. As with the last two films, this is a fun, loud mix, with plenty of work for the subwoofer and the surrounds for the various gunplay sequences, fights and chases. The tank and airplane sequences alone are marvels of immersive action sound goodness. This is another mix where I’m throwing in the perfect score – because it earns it. Don’t listen late at night, since you’ll want to hear this in all its glory.



Special Features Rating: 4/5

The Blu-Ray presentation of Fast & Furious 6 comes packed with materials, including a commentary, three deleted scenes and about 75 minutes of featurettes. And there’s that scene from Fast & Furious 7 thrown in as a special bonus. What isn’t included is the earlier ideas of the PIP U-Control material and Scene Explorer stuff. From what I can tell, it appears that the material is here in the form of featurettes rather than being presented as a PIP option.


Fast & Furious 7 First Look – MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE – DO NOT WATCH THIS UNTIL YOU HAVE COMPLETED FAST & FURIOUS 6! (1:54, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This is a completed scene from the new movie, with the main characters gathered at the funeral of the character eliminated during the end credits of the sixth film. There is a tremendous irony in this scene being the one included here, but it does tie in with the new focus of the seventh film.


Commentary by Director Justin Lin – (AVAILABLE BOTH ON DVD AND BLU-RAY) (ONLY ON EXTENDED VERSION) Justin Lin provides a scene-specific commentary running through the whole film. As with his last two commentaries, there are pauses, but he does provide some interesting thoughts about the sequences. He also clarifies that he sees the past three films as a trilogy, starting with Fast & Furious in 2009, continuing with Fast Five in 2011 and concluding with what he calls Furious 6 this year. Lin discusses the tie-in to Tokyo Drift as he winds up the commentary and his time on this series. He does not get into the reasons for his departure, saying only that he’s completed his journey here and will be moving on.


The following materials are presented in high definition on the Blu-ray. If they are also available on the DVD, they would obviously be presented in standard definition there:

Deleted Scenes (1:40, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON DVD AND BLU-RAY) – Three very quick deleted scenes are presented here in high definition. None of them is particularly crucial to the movie.


Take Control (19:18, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – Here we have what seems to be a vestige from an earlier plan for this Blu-ray. Prior movies in the series had this function as an uber-method of watching the movie, where at key moments, director Justin Lin or various cast members would pop in via seamless branching to discuss how various stunts and sequences were accomplished. The same kind of material has been assembled here, but instead of doing the seamless branching, Universal has instead presented it as its own quasi-featurette.


The Making of Fast & Furious 6: (26:43 Total, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON DVD & BLU-RAY) – This is a four-part series of featurettes about the making of the movie, staying mostly at the surface level. There are lots and lots of SPOILERS in these featurettes, so it’s not advisable to watch them until after you’ve screened the movie.

Fastest of Them All (10:06, 1080p) – The first featurette does an overview of the movie, with Justin Lin and the creative staff talking about where they wanted to go with a sixth movie.

Reuniting the Team (7:34, 1080p) – This featurette focuses on the return of the cast for this installment, including some fun with Ludacris about his work to get in better shape.

Letty’s Return (4:42, 1080p) – This featurette covers the return of Michelle Rodriguez to the franchise, complete with material showing the reshoot of her “death scene” in the fourth installment. Laz Alonso returns for this reshoot, which finds Rodriguez and him joking about how they are now recreating something they shot years earlier.

Mastermind and the Mole (4:21 1080p) (BIG SPOILERS IN THIS FEATURETTE) – This featurette focuses on the villains of the movie, mostly covering Luke Evans’ Owen Shaw, but also getting into fighter Gina Carano’s performance as Hobbs’ right hand woman, who of course turns out to be more than he thinks she is.


Planes, Tanks and Automobiles: (24:17 Total, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This is a four-part series of featurettes that drills down into the big car chase sequences of the movie. Looking at it here, I wouldn’t be surprised if this material was actually intended for Second Screen application but wound up being repurposed along with the “Take Control” footage.

London Chase (7:56, 1080p) – This featurette goes into the first match-up between Dom’s crew and Shaw’s crew on the streets of London, including the first look at Shaw’s “flip car”. As shown here, there’s a fair amount of CGI being used in the sequence, mostly to transfer it from the Glasgow streets where it was shot, to the London setting.

Highway Heist (6:28, 1080p) – This featurette covers the big tank chase on the highway, including material about the multiple tank bodies being used and the massive number of cars involved. Justin Lin describes this as a sequence that was intended to happen in London but proved completely untenable. The filmmakers wound up being offered a just-completed highway section in Tenerife before it was even opened to the public there. And of course, they made a complete mess out of the area, as this featurette gleefully shows.

Antonov Takedown (6:18, 1080p) – This featurette covers the big runway finale, with all the vehicles in the movie (other than the tank) being put to use to try to stop the villains’ big plane from taking off with the movie’s MacGuffin inside. Justin Lin notes that they practically built a complete Antonov in order to be able to stage as much of the chase as possible with practical objects and not just CGI.

Dom & Letty Race Again (3:35, 1080p) – This featurette covers London street race between Letty and Dom about midway through the movie. The sequence functions both as the necessary link between this movie and the origins of the series, and as a moment to let the stunt drivers blast through London. A few shots of real cars flying through Piccadilly Circus are included here, along with the behind-the-scenes footage of the stunt team working out how to do this safely.


It’s All About The Cars (15:06 Total, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This is a series of three featurettes focusing on more specific aspects of the driving work and cars being created for this movie. This is more of the kind of material that feels like it was intended for “Second Screen” before the idea was apparently dropped.

On The Set With Vin (3:16, 1080p) – This quick featurette just shows Vin Diesel doing his own driving at the highway chase location in Tenerife. And there’s the obligatory shots of local fans taking pictures and shouting encouragement to Diesel while he waits for the next shot to be ready.

Gearhead’s Delight (6:27, 1080p) – This featurette covers Dennis McCarthy’s work as the picture car coordinator for these movies. McCarthy is clearly having a great time working on and talking about these cars. It’s obvious that he’s an indispensable part of the team that makes this series.

The Flip Car (5:23, 1080p) – This featurette focuses squarely on Owen Shaw’s “flip car”, which appears to be a modified dragracer with a special front ramp that allows the car to have approaching vehicles drive up its front and flip themselves over. Dennis McCarthy is once again featured, to discuss the mechanics of how this car operates.


Hand to Hand Fury (9:44, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This final featurette covers the various fight scenes played out in the movie, including two bruising scrapes between Michelle Rodriguez and Gina Carano. Past that, a tube station fracas between Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang and Joe Taslim’s villain character also gets some attention. There’s a bit of time spent on the jail cell fight between Brian and Braga’s men. And the final showdown on the Antonov between Dom, Brian, Hobbs and the bad guys gets the last few minutes.


DVD Copy – A second disc is included in the package, holding the standard DVD of the theatrical cut of the movie. It contains both versions of the movie presented in standard definition in an anamorphic 2.35:1 picture with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound in English, Spanish and French (448 kbps) as well as the English DVS track. Only a few of the special features are included – the commentary over the extended edition, the three deleted scenes, the four-part Making of Fast & Furious 6 featurette set and the short piece “On the Set with Vin”.


Digital Copy – Instructions are included in the packaging for downloading a digital copy of the movie to your laptop or portable device.

Subtitles are available for the film and the special features, in English, Spanish and French. A full chapter menu is available for the
film.



Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Fast & Furious 6, is an entertaining film, but not at the level of previous films in the series. The story moves too slowly and contains too many outrageous moments. However, the easy chemistry of the cast continues to hold sway, and there are still plenty of fun moments along the way as the movie does to London what Fast Five did to Rio. Given where the movie ends, it’s clear that there are still more adventures to be had with this group of characters, as we will see with the upcoming Fast & Furious 7. The unfortunate death of actor Paul Walker will obviously affect how things play out, but this series has plenty of life left in it. Given the lovely high definition presentation and the generous collection of extras, this is a handsome Blu-ray package and I’m happy to recommend it for purchase, even if the movie itself doesn’t quite stand up to the level of the prior entry.


Reviewed By: Kevin EK


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