Fast Five (2011)

May 01, 2011 By Mike B
Movie Review

What Worked?

After a string of sub-par sequels to 2001’s the Fast and the Furious, the series gets an upgrade that smokes the rest with Fast Five. If you think of the fifth movie of any film series, they’re not the ones that are remarkably well-done or thought to be the most entertaining installments. In this very special, almost monumental, case Fast Five almost equals the original, which was an action-pumped adrenaline ride on fire, and becomes a perfect brainless pop-corn flick. Director Justin Lin, star Vin Diesel, and the rest of the cast and crew serve up a sequel that doesn’t just hit its mark; it blows it up with a shower of grenades.

This film reminds us that Lin is not a terrible director after all, and let’s not forget that he did direct Better Luck Tomorrow.  Placing the film in the beautiful setting of Rio de Janeiro also helps quite a bit, as it’s really hard to muck up the effect that serene place has without really trying hard. Everything about the film is fast: the title, which lacks the “furious” part, the cars, the pace, the action, and hell, even the subtitles move fast. In a film like this the action scenes are key, and here they are inventive, daring, ludicrous (not the rapper, although he’s in it), and flat-out entertaining. There’s a wonderful roof-top chase, a clever train heist, a vault robbery, a million dollar quarter mile race, and even fisticuffs are thrown by Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel—probably a homage to King Kong vs. Godzilla. One of the best aspects of the film is the lack of CGI, as almost all of the stunts are done old school.

Almost all the key characters are back from all the previous Fast and Furious films, and they’re all comfortably in their element. Vin Diesel, as Dom Toretto, is still a family-first leader that never backs down from a good brawl or opportunity to deliver a tough-guy line. Jordana Brewster, as Mia, is still the cautious and caring type that’s a sight for sore eyes. Paul Walker is still, well, Paul Walker. On top of that, there’s Chris Bridges back as Tej, Tyrese Gibson back as Roman, and Sung Kang back as Han, in addition to other familiar faces. All have their moments and deliver their humorous lines rather well. The newcomer to the cast, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, is the bonafide scene-stealer, playing some kind of beast  named Hobbs that tracks down fugitives with an iron fist.

The film is great cinematic junk food that won’t leave you with an upset stomach the next day.  It has everything a brainless action film needs to keep crowds entertained; it’s Oceans 11 meets the Italian job with faster cars, hotter women, and manlier men. In short, Fast Five is a 1970 Dodge Charger on an insane roller coaster track; it’s entertaining despite the fifth go-around.

Potential Drawbacks:

In all Fast and Furious films, the dialogue is a bit cheesy, and this film is no exception. In addition, many of the action scenes are impossible. Leave your brain at the door and have a good time.

The running time of this film is a bit lengthy compared to the other Fast and Furious films, and shaving 15-20 minutes off of the run time might have made the film run smoother than it already does.

There are some laughable moments in the film; for example, one of Hobbs’ team members is killed about 4 times over: a car crash, bullets, and two grenades.

Film Recommendations:

The Fast and the Furious
The Rundown

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