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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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Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi: Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the "ecstatic saint." 
<p>She was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for Catherine de' Pazzi to have married wealth and enjoyed comfort, but she chose to follow her own path. At nine she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10 and made a vow of virginity one month later. When 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there. </p><p>Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near so her superiors let her make her profession of vows from a cot in the chapel in a private ceremony. Immediately after, she fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths. </p><p>As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, <i>Admonitions</i>, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious. </p><p>The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people. </p><p>It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. She died in 1607 at 41, and was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, keep me in your care. Guard me in my actions. Teach me to love, and help me to turn to you throughout the day. The world is filled with temptations. As I move through my day, keep me close. May those I encounter feel your loving presence. Lord, be the work of my hands and my heart. Amen.

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