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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Fast & Furious 6

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel star in a scene from the movie "Fast & Furious 6."
The title-shifting franchise that now gives us "Fast & Furious 6" (Universal) may be unreliable where the use of definite articles and the representation of conjunctions are concerned. But its underlying recipe is far more predictable.

So it's unlikely that potential audience members really need a review to tell them that director Justin Lin has turned out yet another barroom brawl of a movie. Or that screenwriter Chris Morgan's script conjures up a teenage boy's vision of the good life, an adolescent "la dolce vita" unencumbered by such killjoy detritus as stop signs and speed limits.

Those tiresome markers of conventionality have never bothered the crew of law-flouting underground car racers who make up the recurring characters of this series. And yes, their endless run-ins with the authorities may have left them on the lam from justice. But at least, as our current adventure begins, they're living out their respective exiles in glamorous places (whence the heavy-duty product placement, in early scenes, for the tourism board of the Canary Islands).

The funds keeping them high on the hog, devotees will remember, were liberated from the coffers of bad guys during their last collective caper, staged down in colorful but corrupt Rio de Janeiro. Rio, Gran Canaria. ... Oh, it's a giddy whirl!

Still, America being home and all, it would be nice to be rehabilitated.

Well, gather round boys and girls because Federal Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) has just the proposition you've been waiting for: Help him thwart the civilization-threatening schemes of criminal mastermind Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) -- who uses hotrods to speed his heists of top-secret military equipment -- and Uncle Sam will dole out pardons to everyone.

Just in case team leaders Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) should require further inducement, Agent Hobbs has come armed with photos -- recent photos! -- of Dom's presumed-dead love interest, Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez). Far from taking the Long Nap, it turns out, Letty is alive and well -- a case of amnesia perhaps excepted -- and serving as Shaw's No. 2.

Time to cut to the chase or, in this case, the well-orchestrated series of chases that constitute the very essence of the exercise. Sit back and thrill to the sight of muscle cars flashing and zooming their way through the streets of London, leaving those stodgy double-decker buses far behind.

Lin softens the prevailing tone of grunting machismo with the occasional flourish of vague religiosity. Thus the cross Dom wears around his neck becomes a symbol of his bond with Letty, and the wrap-up includes a grace over backyard barbecue.

Yet the self-determined code which these ostensible heroes substitute for civil obedience -- it seems to center on loyalty to their self-created "family" -- is morally dubious and certainly not for the impressionable.

The film contains murky moral values, considerable stylized violence including a scene of torture, cohabitation, partial nudity, a few uses of profanity, at least one rough term, much crude and crass language and an obscene gesture. The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.





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Junipero Serra: In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard. 
<p>Born on Spain’s island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of St. Francis’ childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he spent most of his time in the classroom—first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of St. Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero’s desire was to convert native peoples in the New World. </p><p>Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero’s left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross—sometimes life-threatening—for the rest of his life. For 18 years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there. </p><p>Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two <i>conquistadors</i>—one military, one spiritual—began their quest. José de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the 900-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph’s day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived. </p><p>Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra’s death. </p><p>Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous “Regulation” protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a “Bill of Rights” for Native Americans. </p><p>Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts—a move that has brought cries of “injustice” from some moderns. </p><p>Junipero’s missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight till dawn. He baptized over 6,000 people and confirmed 5,000. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988. Pope Francis canonized him in Washington, D.C., on September 23, 2015.</p> American Catholic Blog Hope and faith can outshine the darkness of evil. However dense the darkness may appear, our hope for the triumph of the light is stronger still. Though violence continues to stain us with blood, the shadows of death can be dissipated with one act of light.

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