Fast & Furious 6 is out this week on Blu-ray & DVD and it's just weird to write about a movie that features street racing superheroes when lead actor Paul Walker just died in a high-performance sports car crash.
All indications are that Paul Walker was grateful to have found a career in one of the most successful film series of all times. His fellow cast members were unanimous in their praise for him and there's the wonderful story in the above video about how he quietly paid for a $9000 ring as an anonymous gift to a military couple in 2004.
Universal has announced that they'll donate a portion of the proceeds from Fast & Furious 6 home video sales to Paul Walker's nonprofit Reach Out Worldwide, a "network of professionals with first-responder skill-sets who augment local expertise when natural disasters strike in order to accelerate relief efforts."
How the series evolved from low-budget thrillers about street racing to lavish international crime travelogs is hard to fathom, but somehow a crew of street kids from Los Angeles has teamed up with their fellow drivers from around the world and various law enforcement enterprises to seek justice in the gray areas between right and wrong. The overall series plot arc seems more like something conceived by a bunch of 8-year-olds playing with action figures than a grownups with a huge studio bank account.
Leaving aside the implied criticism of every military and law enforcement group in the world (they really have to call in Ludacris to find someone with the skills to handle the bad guys?), Fast & Furious 6 is still a lot of fun and probably the closest thing we've got now to the '80s & '90s less-than-completely-serious James Bond movies.
This time they go up against a crew that's a mirror of their own and Letty (played by Michelle Rodriguez) has mysteriously returned from the dead with total memory loss and she's fighting for the bad(der) guys. There's a giant "London" chase scene filmed in Glasgow, an encounter with a tank in Spain and a climactic battle where the crew uses street cars and grappling hooks to bring down a plane. Someone dies in the battle (or do they? tune in for episode 7!) and Dwayne Johnson gets everyone a pardon for any crimes they committed against the USA in the previous movies.
Once again, the home video release is loaded with documentaries that explain how they tricked out the cars and how the filmed the action sequences. Great stuff, if you're into that sort of thing, but it's no fun hearing Vin Diesel keep referring to "the Franchise" when he's talking about the movies. The "Extended Version" is one full minute longer that the theatrical version.
Jason Statham is tipped as the villain for Fast & Furious 7 in a closing scene and the disk extras include a funeral scene that's a preview of the upcoming movie. That movie is on hold now while the filmmakers figure out how to handle Walker's death.