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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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Bernard of Clairvaux: Man of the century! Woman of the century! You see such terms applied to so many today—“golfer of the century,” “composer of the century,” “right tackle of the century”—that the line no longer has any punch. But Western Europe's “man of the twelfth century,” without doubt or controversy, has to be Bernard of Clairvaux. Adviser of popes, preacher of the Second Crusade, defender of the faith, healer of a schism, reformer of a monastic Order, Scripture scholar, theologian and eloquent preacher: any one of these titles would distinguish an ordinary man. Yet Bernard was all of these—and he still retained a burning desire to return to the hidden monastic life of his younger days. 
<p>In the year 1111, at the age of 20, Bernard left his home to join the monastic community of Citeaux. His five brothers, two uncles and some 30 young friends followed him into the monastery. Within four years a dying community had recovered enough vitality to establish a new house in the nearby valley of Wormwoods, with Bernard as abbot. The zealous young man was quite demanding, though more on himself than others. A slight breakdown of health taught him to be more patient and understanding. The valley was soon renamed Clairvaux, the valley of light. </p><p>His ability as arbitrator and counselor became widely known. More and more he was lured away from the monastery to settle long-standing disputes. On several of these occasions he apparently stepped on some sensitive toes in Rome. Bernard was completely dedicated to the primacy of the Roman See. But to a letter of warning from Rome, he replied that the good fathers in Rome had enough to do to keep the Church in one piece. If any matters arose that warranted their interest, he would be the first to let them know. </p><p>Shortly thereafter it was Bernard who intervened in a full-blown schism and settled it in favor of the Roman pontiff against the antipope. </p><p>The Holy See prevailed on Bernard to preach the Second Crusade throughout Europe. His eloquence was so overwhelming that a great army was assembled and the success of the crusade seemed assured. The ideals of the men and their leaders, however, were not those of Abbot Bernard, and the project ended as a complete military and moral disaster. </p><p>Bernard felt responsible in some way for the degenerative effects of the crusade. This heavy burden possibly hastened his death, which came August 20, 1153.</p> American Catholic Blog One of the things that we need to remember is that we’re preaching Jesus, not the institutional Church. It’s easy to get caught up in the rules and regulations of the institution and forget that we are saved not by the Church but by the person of Jesus or the Church as the body of Christ.

 
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