Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Fast and Furious Six; that's not, of course, Fast and Furious Physics, which would be a different course entirely

Man, I want a Hollywood tank. They're like the Tardis, but armed. They're way smaller on the outside. The one in Fast and Furious 6 seemed bigger than my apartment. I bet I could have fit my whole car inside the turret. Hell, I think I could have got my book collection into the turret, which would solve all kinds of problems. And Hollywood tanks are crazy fast; you can just zip along the highway in a Hollywood tank and no-one would ever flash their high beams at you, even if they did have Nordor plates and were doing 30 over the Mexican speed limit well south of El Paso. God, I'd like to see them try that if I was in a tank. They have revolving turrets. You could scoot round and flash your muzzle right back at them; at the kind of distance Nordor beemers like to maintain from my bumper, the muzzle flash alone would vaporise everything back to the B pillar never mind what round you had loaded.

The only reason I went to see F&F6 was the tank is in the trailer, and it's such an outrageous idea that I figured it had to be worth three quid even if nothing else worked. It was a long hard wait to get that far. Fast Five - which is the third most popular post on this blog, for some reason - starts off with an absolute belter of a chase involving a train and cars and dune buggies and exploding bridges and lunacy. F&F6 seems to have concluded that that sort of thing was just pandering to the baser impulses of the audience and so they deployed the actors. Quite how, at this point, anyone though that would be a good idea … their leads are Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, for heaven's sake. Much of the scenery can emote more convincingly. Their two new names were Gina Carano, who is incredibly good at beating people up, and Luke Evans, who I was thinking of as the Canadian Orlando Bloom until I could go home and check that he was in fact the guy that played Aramis in the recent Three Musketeers movie. Man, not being able quite to figure out who he was about the second or third most annoying thing about him in both the movies I've seen him in. Anyhow, with all that acting talent deployed to emote about the problem of Michelle Rodriguez being suddenly employable again, and thus having to be resurrected back into this movie franchise, there was a lot less open defiance of the laws of physics than I really expect out of a popcorn movie.

What's the plot? Lord, it's beyond dumb. Some hokum about how some ex-military loon bag has assembled a mirror image of Vin's gang of car-driving badasses and is somehow using cars to steal a bunch of mcguffins for hell if I know what reason. Anyhow, Vin has to stop him, because otherwise all those cars are just going to rust or something. And after a lot of sub-optimal chases in the dark and the entirely mandatory and deeply annoying scene where there's a street meet of funky drivers and their slappertastic girlfriends, we finally get the tank chase, which doesn't make a button of sense starting with the fact that the tank appears out of the inside of a vast container which doesn't appear to have had any door big enough to put a tank into it through in the first place. And what a tank it is. As I pointed out at the beginning, it's palatial on the inside, but beguilingly compact on the outside. And it has a windscreen for the driver, though I've no idea why because half the time it looks like Luke Evans is driving it from the turret. And firing the gun, and loading it, and swivelling the turret around; it's every five year old boy's dream of a tank. Also, you can drive it over any god's amount of stuff, including cars, and at no point does it throw its tracks like a tank would in the real world if you zapped it over a land rover or a cement berm at forty miles an hour.

The tank chase wasn't as much fun as I hoped it would be, in other words. But it's all a feint, while the evil genius mastermind pulls his real plan off. Like every other evil plot I've seen in the movies for the last two years, it revolves around getting captured and then wiggling free by out-thinking the good guys. Again, this isn't perhaps a true feat of intellect given the collective intellectual horsepower on display, but man, if people were whammying their way out of being captured this much in the real world, we'd have made shoot-to-kill the only sensible policy decades ago. Since this is Fast and Furious world, the next thing is a vast chase. Having long since run out of rational things to chase now that they're six movies in, they chase an Antonov heavy cargo jet. For what feels like about twenty minutes. At sixty miles an hour. I was bored enough to start wondering how long the runway would have to be to get this to work. Well, something between 15 and 20 miles, depending on how much time we were living through twice due to intercutting. The longest runway in the world - this I had to check - is at Edwards Air Force Base, and it's 12 km, or call it 8 miles if you're feeling generous to a fault. There's nothing in Spain that's more than half that length…. Not that a cargo jet trying to take off would actually be going at a crappy sixty miles an hour; try three times that.

Still there's a high old disregard for the laws of physics. There's a huge disclaimer at the end of the movie warning people not to try any of the stuff they've just seen in their own cars; for some reason it rambles on about closed courses and trained drivers when of course it should just say, Don't try any of this because reality doesn't work this way. Here's a handy tip they didn't cover; cars, moving or stationary, do NOT break your fall when you collide with them at high speed. They break every bone in your body. I try these things out so that you don't have to. I mention this because at one point, Vin Diesel actually answers the question "How did you know there'd be a car to break our fall?" and didn't give the right answer. Also, the F&F Phy6 of falling out of an aeroplane moving at takeoff speed; totally comfy if you fall straight down into a fast moving car directly below you; utterly lethal if you just drop out of the plane and fly backwards in a parabola to the ground.  Same amount of energy either way, really, and cars don't break your fall. So don't try that one at home either.

Apparently I missed out on a sequel hook; there's a long boring coda at the end in which the surviving cast have a barbecue, but if you can somehow stay awake past that and then keep your patience during the credits, Jason Statham shows up and murders one of the survivors we've just seen at the barbecue, which sets up the next movie. And normally I'd go hey wow, the Stath is finally gracing this dreck with his presence, but having seen both Blitz and Chaos last year on DVD, I have had a crisis of faith about the Stath, and am somehow less filled with Squee than I should be.

PS: someone on the web thoughtfully made this graphic on runways:

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