This was a huge surprise for me… Fast Five is not only the BEST Fast and Furious movie in the racing series BUT it’s also probably going to contend for best blockbuster of the summer. Why? Because it knows exactly what it is and doesn’t try to be anything more than well shot and choreographed action with a few laughs and a surprisingly big heart.
Okay. So the movie is absolutely ridiculous but we all knew that going in therefore the real question becomes whether this absolutely ridiculous film (that’s way too long… an issue we’ll discuss later) is exciting, engaging and entertaining. The answer, hell yes. Justin Lin is going to be the next Michael Bay but, you know, with talent and skill and not just an eye for filming young attractive girls with lens flares.
It’s already been stated that this is a reboot of sorts for the series in that the racing elements are being but in the background in favour of heists… another smart choice by writer Chris Morgan and Lin (who is rumoured to be getting the next in the Terminator franchise which is a good choice for them and a bad choice for Lin). Only, here’s where that length issue comes to play (the film comes in at an epic 130 mins)… the first hour or so of the film is almost wholly different than the second, which finally sets this Ocean’s Elevenish heist in motion (you know, gather the team, draw up the plans, etc.).
The main problem with the film, even though it is pretty fun and features great action, is this level of genre/homage mash-up that makes it really uneven. The first half is a prison break (a great opening scene by the way, with a really clever use of the cars… the wedge), the second sets up the reunion/heist elements and then finally we get the Rock (doing his best Samuel Gerard/Tommy Lee Jones from The Fugitive) and a chase film thrown in there as well.
Lastly, we want to take a second to talk about the heart of this film… and there is one. Truly. Not lying. What has happened with the Fast and Furious series is that we’ve watched these poorly drawn (and acted) characters for the last decade and because of this there’s now a certain lived-in/nostalgic quality projected by this ‘family’ of car racers/thieves. Are the performances any better? Not really, even though we enjoyed Vin Diesel quite a bit as Dom (he actually displays some emotions this time) and Dwayne The Rock Johnson as Hobbs BUT Paul Walker is still horribly bad as are most of the returners (although Han, played by Sung Kang, is still the coolest man on the planet).
So… Where does this leave us? Racing right into the rest of the mindless summer blockbusters which now have a benchmark to beat.
PS – It’s also interesting/promising that the film uses a lot of subtitles (two characters mainly speak in Spanish and the film is set in Portuguese speaking Rio) hopefully training mainstream audiences to accept them more than they do now.
Official Synopsis: “Vin Diesel and Paul Walker lead a reunion of returning all-stars from every chapter of the explosive franchise built on speed in Fast Five. In this installment, former cop Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) partners with ex-con Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) on the opposite side of the law. Dwayne Johnson joins returning favorites Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Matt Schulze, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Tego Calderon and Don Omar for this ultimate high-stakes race.
Since Brian and Mia Toretto (Brewster) broke Dom out of custody, they’ve blown across many borders to elude authorities. Now backed into a corner in Rio de Janeiro, they must pull one last job in order to gain their freedom. As they assemble their elite team of top racers, the unlikely allies know their only shot of getting out for good means confronting the corrupt businessman who wants them dead. But he’s not the only one on their tail.
Hard-nosed federal agent Luke Hobbs (Johnson) never misses his target. When he is assigned to track down Dom and Brian, he and his strike team launch an all-out assault to capture them. But as his men tear through Brazil, Hobbs learns he can’t separate the good guys from the bad. Now, he must rely on his instincts to corner his prey…before someone else runs them down first.”