Fast & Furious 6 Extended Edition Blu-Ray+DVD+Digital Copy Review
Posted by Chad Webb on 12.10.2013
The sixth installment of the franchise that keeps getting bigger hits Blu-Ray. How does the release stack up? Check out the full review for details!
Vin Diesel: Dominic Toretto
Paul Walker: Brian OíConnor
Dwayne Johnson: Hobbs
Jordana Brewster: Mia
Michelle Rodriguez: Letty
Tyrese Gibson: Roman
Sung Kang: Han
Gal Gadot: Gisele
Luke Evans: Shaw
Elsa Pataky: Elena
Gina Carano: Riley
Directed By: Justin Lin
Written By: Chris Morgan
Theatrical Release Date: May 24, 2013
DVD Release Date: December 10, 2013
Running Time: 130 minutes
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action and mayhem throughout, some sexuality and language
My opinion of the Fast & Furious franchise has grown into something of a love-hate relationship. On one hand they are utterly ridiculous, tacky, and occasionally maddening. However, the films can also be fun, and amazingly have shown improvement in their later years. I used to just plain loathe these movies. Fast Five changed that, but I also started to look at what I was truly angry at. It's not always the movies themselves that are the issue; it's the fact that they've been a horrible influence on society (street racing, etc.) and that critics lavish praise upon them in a manner that accentuates their hypocrisy. More on that later.
As for Fast & Furious 6, it is entertaining, continuing the cheesy one-liners with the colorful recurring characters and the cool car eye-candy. However, the action sequences venture into Die Another Day territory. That means that at times they become so preposterous and so stupid that it even steps over the line for a mindless action film. Yes, there is a limit. People who argue that any over the top action sequence is just the same as all the others are WRONG. The Rock and Vin Diesel make leaps that are absolutely hilariously awful. Not all the action is like that, though the airport runway at the end must be like 40 miles long. The hand-to-hand combat is excellent, as are the races, and the foot pursuits. I wouldn't call the action sloppy necessarily, but it isn't smooth or taut either.
Letís get to the plot. After the events of Fast Five, the crew have decided to retire and scattered across the globe. They all have plenty of money at this point after the last score, so thatís not an issue. Brian OíConnor (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) now have a son, Jack, while Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is seeing Brazilian police office Elena (Elsa Pataky). All seems well, and if they long for the old days the answer arrives when Diplomatic Secret Security agent Luke Hobbs (The Rock), along with his female sidekick Riley (Gina Carano), track Dom down and seeks the services of him and his group. Another crew, led by ex-British Special Forces officer Shaw (Luke Evans), has a base in London and is in the process of gathering components for what will be a sort of Doomsday weapon that could shut down the power of an entire country. Before accepting the offer, Dom assembles his pals and they cut a deal. The kicker is that a member of Shawís cohorts is none other than Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), presumed dead ex-girlfriend of Dom. With that knowledge, itís off to London.
The performances are consistent. This is still Diesel's show and Paul Walker takes more of a back seat to The Rock. Tyrese Gibson is merely comic relief now. The plot is fairly standard. The criminals have transformed totally into heroes, though I would argue they have turned into cartoonish superheroes at this point. The screenplay from Chris Morgan ties in elements from previous sequels and connects a great deal of backstory into a tidy package for Fast & Furious 7. The final twist was spectacular by the way. Luke Evans was a suitable villain, but I'm not sure I'd say he was the best choice for the role. Gina Carano was a superb new addition as well. As for Justin Lin's direction, well, it has its highs and lows. Lin's pacing is wonderful, the clarity of his camera is fabulous, and the techno score is effective. However, the tendency to employ bigger, bolder action stunts can get you into trouble. The 007 series went through this, and so has Die Hard. If they keep going down this road, the next movie will be absurd on a whole new level.
Here is my problem with critics. Fast & Furious 6 has garnered positive reviews. Fine. But the reasoning most of them use is basically a variation on: "This is fun trash that doesn't pretend to be anything that it isn't." Ok, is this solid action junk? Yes, it is. These flicks do not pretend to be high art of any kind, but they have changed. Huge action scenes like this were not always the priority for them. They have become more inflated and increasingly dumb over time. What started as an undercover cop story has embraced identities such as drug thriller, heist movie, and now stereotypical good vs evil yarn. One article stated that this franchise winks at itself and comes close to self-parody. This is laughable. At no point, do the Fast & Furious movies wink at themselves. If they are aware that this is mindless action, Justin Lin and company think it's seriously great mindless action. If anything, they are too arrogant and don't know when to scale back. I think it's awesome when critics praise action movies that require the viewer to just sit back and enjoy the ride. But to compliment this for "not pretending to be anything it isn't" and crapping all over all the other mindless action movies that aren't over-hyped blockbuster spectacles like Fast & Furious is hypocritical and insulting. To say this is any different, or superior than the efforts from Stallone, Schwarzenegger, or Statham earlier in 2013 is moronic. If we're debating about the quality of the action, or preferring younger stars, I get that, but they are all cut from the same mold people. If we're saying that the only way for people to acknowledge mindless action is if the sequences are exaggerated to the nth degree, I don't understand. The Fast & Furious series has never hesitated to be nonsensical, but this one goes overboard and then some.
Arguments on critics aside, Fast & Furious 6 was worth the ticket price, but it has more than a few flaws. This is nowhere near as good as Fast Five, but it is certainly never boring and even though I hate to admit it, I am warming to the characters. I just wish this franchise didn't bring with it the most irritating fans in the world to the theater. That could be its own column. When I initially jotted down my thoughts after seeing this on the big screen, I wrote that Fast & Furious 7 should be the final one despite the fact that they are making money hand over fist right now. If you follow the news updates, youíll know that Fast & Furious 8 is already being developed. Will Paul Walkerís tragic death alter the trajectory? Time will tell. They possess plenty of steam, but it is in danger of overheating. Overall, I would call this one "middle of the road" in terms of quality, but if you're planning to see it, chances are you know what you're getting into it anyway.
*As this edition does come with an ďExtended Cut,Ē it is worth noting that the running time for both the theatrical and extended version are 2 hours and 11 minutes. That doesnít mean they are exactly the same mind you, but it does mean the changes are minimal and difficult to spot. A couple of scenes feel longer, such as the interrogation by Gisele and Riley and the fight between Riley and Letty, but thatís about in terms of added material. The primary changes are in sound design, and Lin confirms this in the commentary. For example, the intensity of OíConnorís fist-fight was scaled back significantly for the theatrical release to appease the MPAA. The post-credits scene has also been moved up.
This is the type of film your entertainment center was made for, and it certainly accentuates the quality of Blu-Ray. This has always been a colorful franchise, filmed in exotic (or at the very least sunny) locations that are rendered gorgeous in High-Def. Universal's 2.35:1 AVC 1080p transfer looks outstanding. The colors are balanced adeptly, the contrast is excellent, the blacks are sufficiently deep. I detected no banding, artifacting, or flaws in the picture such as grain or blurs. This is top-notch stuff from a video standpoint as Stephen F. Windomís cinematography is displayed as eye-catching and absorbing.
In the sound department, the quality is just as noticeably competent. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 captures just about all the necessary noises at the appropriate levels. Iíve always stated that action flicks will give your surround sound speakers and television a workout and this only reaffirms that. You have gunfire, explosions, car crashes, chases, and probably even the kitchen sink. In other words, this throws every sound in the book at you and they come across superbly here. Lucas Vidalís score is also terrific and translated at a proper volume. The only hiccup if there is one is that the dialogue from the cast gets overwhelmed by all of this from time to time, but that is not the first time this has happened in an action movie on video. Oddly, the only other languages on this disc are an English Descriptive 2.0 track and English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing.
Fast & Furious 6 is distributed in a variety of cases. I have the standard slimline blue keep case with a cardboard slipsleeve embossed cover. You will find steelbook cases out there for a higher price though. The case artwork is fine I suppose, better than floating heads or something like that. There wasnít really any stand out posters for this title. The pack I am reviewing also includes a regular DVD and an Ultraviolet digital copy code.
Deleted Scenes (1:40) Ė As you can see by the length of this, the cut sequences do not amount to much. Youíll see an extra exchange between Han and Gisele thatís ok, but thatís about it. None of these are that important.
Take Control (19:18) Ė This is an odd little featurette where Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul walker, and Justin Lin sharing random reflections of the production. The whole set-up of it is a bit weird and comes across like it was attempt at a Picture-in-Picture commentary that was scrapped. Oh well. It does have some good stuff with Dieselís CGI dummy, Rodriguez talking about her fight with Carano, and Walker swooning over the cars.
The Making of Fast and Furious 6 - This is one bonus feature that houses multiple smaller extras beneath it. They are "The Fastest of Them All" (10:06), "Reuniting the Team" (7:34), "Letty's Return" (4:42), and "The Mastermind" (4:21). Together they comprise a decent ďmaking-ofĒ documentary that is almost 25 minutes long. You receive a lot of information and behind the scenes footage, not to mention a comprehensive overview of the shoot and plenty of the cast messing around if thatís your cup of tea.
Planes, Tanks, and Automobiles - This is another large bonus with separate sub-headings. They are: "The London Chase" (7:56), "Highway Heist: Convoy Attack" (6:28), "The Antonov Takedown" (6:18), and "Dom and Letty Race Again" (3:35). This one if all about the action sequences, the effects, and a salute to the stuntmen and crew members who constructed it all. And you know what, these people deserve their own extra. What makes this most interesting is discovering which scenes were filmed for real and not touched up with CGI.
Itís All About the Cars - Another large section whose main topic is spelled out in the title. The three sub-headings here are: "On the Set With Vin" (3:16), "Gearhead's Delight" (6:27), and "The Flip Car" (5:23). Iím not a car not, but I appreciate car talk about as much as the next guy so these are cool additions. The first involves Diesel getting ready for a crucial stun sequence. The second showcases why certain cars were chosen for certain characters. The last one is all about Shawís vehicle and how the crew was excited that it worked the way they intended.
Hand to Hand Fury (9:44) Ė This is obviously all about the martial arts aspects of the movie. And it is worth mentioning that most of these extras exhibit how dedicated Lin is to his characters and his direction in making this a good film. On this you will see set construction and the various stars gearing up for their big battles with others.
Audio Commentary - This track is with director Justin Lin, who does a fine job of commenting consistently about interesting areas of the filmmaking process that are not covered in the aforementioned extras. Doubling up can always be annoying in a commentary, but Lin avoids that for the most part. He talks about juggling all of the characters, how this is last installment of the franchise, and taking the feature from two movies to one. He also includes some humorous stories and even criticizes a few scenes. There are gaps every now and then, but for this being one person talking Lin steps up to the challenge fine. Overall, this is a recommended track, not nearly as boring as some are.
Fast & Furious 7 First Look (1:54) Ė The US release of this disc was delayed so they could find a spot for this preview. Basically this is a scene from Hanís funeral. You may have seen this on the news after Walker death because there is a rather eerie exchange between Brian and Roman where the latter makes him promise ďNo more funerals.Ē Itís a good sequence all in all, but at this point weíre not sure if it will remain in tact or not.
The Film: 6.5/10.0
The Video: 9.0/10.0
The Audio: 8.5/10.0
The Packaging: 8.0/10.0
The Extras: 9.0/10.0
The 411: It was weird getting this to review the same weekend that Paul walker tragically died. As I write this, the production for Fast & Furious 7 has been put on hold and the future of the franchise is anyoneís guess. As for Fast & Furious 6, I admit it is fun to a certain degree, but itís also incredibly silly this time around and I do think the next director (James Wan) needs to sit back and re-evaluate the action before trying to one-up Justin Lin. A few scenes loom dangerously close to self-parody. That being said, Lin manages to juggle all of the characters, establish a terrific sense of pacing and build, and blend comedy with action in a rather dexterous manner. Despite the flaws, the story and universe does have a crazy cohesiveness to it that is appealing. When asked about my feeling on this series, I am usually alone with my love-hate opinion. Most people I meet either like these films or want nothing to do with them. At times Iím still unsure how to answer, but I am growing more fond of these flicks than I ever thought possible. While Fast & Furious 6 is far from the best installment, I do prefer this phase of the franchise above the earlier entries. This Blu-Ray package is very good. The technical specifications are fantastic, it has a bundle of extras, and of course the type of movie youíll want to watch often. You canít go wrong with this as a gift around the holiday season. Or if itís too late to add it to your list, get a copy with a gift card.