Fast & Furious 6 (2013) begins with ‘Hobbs’ (Dwayne Johnson) conscripting ‘Dom’ (Vin Diesel) and his crew to help take down an ambitious mercenary squad led by ‘Owen Shaw’ (Luke Evans), who apparently rescued/recruited the amnesiac ‘Letty’ (Michelle Rodriguez) after her near-fatal car-‘splosion! Sadly, they then all relocate to one of the least exotic locations of the series so far: London, England… and while I’m generally not a nationalistic sort, it did kinda bug me that there wasn’t a single heroic/honourable Brit to be found anywhere in this movie… just villains, cowards, and arrogant/insulting a-holes! Ah well, it was great to have M-Rod back in action… and even if the explanation behind her return was sorta dumb, it did at least lead to some sweet scenes with Dom, as he tried to jog her memory and rekindle their romance via the international love-language of street-racing! She also got to have two knockdown, drag-out brawls with Hobbs’s new side-chick ‘Riley Hicks’, played by Gina Carano*, and inexplicably survive ‘em both! I mean, M-Rod’s my girl, but I’m pretty sure the MMA veteran would destroy her irl… and even in the movie world, Hicks is a hulking, highly-trained federal agent, while Letty’s just a petite street-rat with a spunky attitude… but it was cool to see them going toe-to-toe, all the same.
Meanwhile, Gal Gadot returned as ‘Gisele’, only to later exit the series (?) in a blaze of glory and bullets, deliberately dropping from a speeding plane so that she could shoot a baddy sneaking up behind ‘Han’ (Sung Kang), thus saving his life but leaving him broken-hearted… which, if you were being very generous, could retroactively explain his idiotically self-destructive behaviour in F&F3, I guess? Either way, the actress has since gone on to claim her rightful place as a super-heroine-headliner, so hurrah for that! Jordana Brewster and Elsa Pataky also return, but they’re both cast as baby-burdened damsels-in-distress, and don’t get to have any fun at all… though there is a weird pseudo-sisterly moment at the end of the flick, where Letty thanks ‘Elena’ (Pataky) for looking after Dom while she was “away”, as if the woman was just boyfriend-sitting for her! Apparently there’s no hard feelings though, because the police are Elena’s real “family”, and she’s re-joining them now (after hiding-out with fugitive criminals for a couple months!?). Oh, and there’s a barely-worth-it cameo by (Lady) Clara Paget as ‘Vegh’, Shaw’s own side-chick, who Wikipedia describes as “a highly trained female assassin”, but all I remember her doing is driving at people in a ramp-car, and winking at ‘Brian’ (Paul Walker) one time… so, really, her character should’ve been called “Mehg” instead… (ho-ho!)
As an easily-confused old-man who’s (apparently) unable to read opening credits, when I initially heard the heroes discussing a British baddy named “Shaw”, I was expecting it to be Jason Statham, but he doesn’t show up until the very end (playing Owen’s vengeful brother, ‘Deckard’), in a mid-credits scene intended to tee-up the then-already-in-production sequel (while also retconning Hans’s death in F&F3). By a wacky co-inky-dink, the boxset’s bonus disc features a “pre-viz” animation of an alternate opening heist for F&F6 (produced months before they started filming), in which the lead baddy does infact look suspiciously like Statham…!
There’s also plenty fun bonus content on this movie’s disc, including a 5-min featurette dedicated solely to Letty, and a “making-of” about her big throwdown with Hicks, which director Justin Lin intended to be “the most memorable female fight in the history of cinema”! Apparently prepping for their face-off took a couple months of intensive training, and the scene itself took several days to film. Lin reckons the subway fight allows Letty to “learn” more about herself… specifically the fact that she’s a scrappy survivor, who can hold her own against a bigger/stronger opponent by fighting dirty. As M-Rod asserts, when Letty’s in “fight or flight” mode, she’ll bite and scratch and do whatever it takes to win, whereas Hicks is all about technique…
Suprisingly, M-Rod claims no one told her about the tag-ending of F&F5 (involving Letty’s miraculous re-appearance) before it was released in theatres! Still, she was happy to return to the franchise, because she loves playing such an “independent woman”, and is always fighting for her character’s integrity/street credibility, relishing the challenge of keeping Letty’s behaviour consistent despite her current amnesia. She also jokingly (?) claims that the reason she got into show-business in the first place is so she could do crazy illegal stuff she’d never get away with irl (such as street-racing), and praises Diesel’s efforts as a producer, crediting him with giving the series its “heart”. Bless.
This time around Gadot actually gets a little coverage in the “making-of” featurettes too, admitting that she’d been pushing for more action scenes and stunts since she first joined the cast, and was glad when her pestering finally paid off, even if it proved to be her character’s swan-song! At least she went out on a high-note, with Gadot describing her death scene as “very cool, very different”… and (prophetically?) suggesting that making this movie made her feel like a “superwoman”.
Oh, and Lin comments on how miserable it is to film the trademark “cool cars and hot chicks” scenes, because it’s usually a cold night where the poor extras (who he salutes as “troupers”) are wearing very little clothing for hours at a time. That didn’t seem to deter him though…!
* On his commentary track, Lin claims that Carano is “the nicest person you’ll ever meet”… which is patently untrue. She isn’t even the nicest person in this movie’s cast whose first-name begins with the letter “G”!