I took a break from reading today to consume some senseless mind candy. By that, I mean, I ventured to the theater to see Fast Five. Before I say anything about the movie, let me begin by telling you what the movie is not. It is not high art; do not expect the Oscar committee to be considering this for the 2o12 Academy Awards. It is not designed to have the audience pondering the meaning of life or to spur audiences to social action. It is not a film that takes the laws of physics into consideration, do not take your favorite science professor (or mechanic, for that matter) to this movie. What it is, simply, is fun.
Anyone who has seen any of the previous movies in The Fast and The Furious franchise will be familiar with the formula: fast cars, epic chases, and bad guys. Admittedly, that last point is not always so clear. After all, Dominic Toretto is not exactly on the right side of the law, but he is the one you will be cheering for. What is different about this addition to the series is the focus on the heist instead of simply focusing on the cars and racing. Some moments of Fast Five felt a little like Oceans 11 or The Italian Job, though not quite of the same caliber in terms of acting.
Fast Five takes the crew to Brazil after the obligatory opening chase scene to rescue Dom from a police transport van. This opening chase scene did not have the same punch or tension as did the opening sequence in Fast and Furious (2009). Not to worry, after a few minutes of exposition Brian, Mia, and Dom find themselves in an epic heist involving a train, and from there the action continues. Our protagonists find themselves being hunted by both a Brazilian kingpin, played by Joaquim de Almeida, and a DEA Special Forces agent, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. It becomes necessary for Dom and Brian to assemble their own dream team, and so, familiar faces start appearing on screen. Matt Schulze is back as Vince. Tyrese Gibson returns as Roman. Ludacris reprises his role of Tej. Tego Calderon and Don Omar are back as friends Tego and Rico. Sung Kang brings back Han Lue, and Gal Gadot is once again Giselle Harabo. Director Justin Lin has certainly put together an homage of all the best of the previous films and the actors fall easily back into character. Another noteworthy element of this movie is Justin Lin’s preference for creating live-action stunts in lieu of CGI whenever possible, thus giving the movie a more gritty and authentic feel (despite the complete disregard for physical possibility).
As a longtime fan of this franchise and a lover of car-chase movies in general (I have similar love for all of Jason Statham’s movies) I was not disappointed by Fast Five. It is a fun action movie with lots of fast cars and snarky dialogue. As a bonus, there is an epic fight scene between Dom and Hobbs (Diesel and Johnson) that will make up for any of The Rock’s questionable kid-friendly films prior to his return to the action genre. If you’re looking for Oscar worthy performances, stay away. If you’re a fan of action and fast cars, this is for you. And, when you do go to see this, be sure to stay through the credits. Thank me later.