There's something freakishly joyous about Fast Five,
the fifth film in the Fast & The Furious
series and quite possibly the best of the bunch. If you've been a fan of the previous four films, then there should be nothing that gets in your way of seeing Fast Five,
easily the best of director Justin Lin's three in the series (he directed the last two). While it's likely that some purists will still prefer Rob Cohen's original flick, Lin manages to get more of the fundamental stylings returned to the series while adding in a surprising amount of humanity, humor and unabashed silliness. Fast Five
is without question the hardest, fastest, funniest and most relentlessly hardcore film in the series and so devoted to its street racing, action sequences, car chases, foot chases and hot men with hot women in hot cars that it's hard to imagine too many people watching the film without getting completely swept up in it even if it will drop the IQ a few points.
This time around, everything goes down in Rio de Janeiro as Dom Toretto (Diesel) is ingeniously (and ridiculously) swept out of prison by his ever loyal sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster) and good guy turned, well, good guy Brian (Paul Walker). They all flee to Rio, where they meet up with Vince (Matt Schulze). Vince has arranged one last job but, of course, that would take us to about the 30-minute point and this is a 130-minute film. Before long, the decision has been made to rip off Rio's drug kingpin (Joaquim de Almeida) with the help of a hand-picked team of experts include Tej (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges), Han (Sung Kang), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Gisele (Gal Gadot) and a hilarious explosives team of Leo and Santos (Tego Calderon and Don Omar).
In addition to all the obstacles of trying to take down the single most powerful man in Rio, our team will have to avoid the grasp of Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), a cowboy style American cop who always gets his man (or woman) and his companion for the effort, Elena (Elsa Pataky).
While the middle 1/3 of Fast Five
spends way too much time with repetitive underground speeding (Can't call it racing...it typically only involves one car), the vast majority of Fast Five
is ridiculously energetic and inspired action sequences and chase scenes that make absolutely no sense but are relentlessly and intensely fun. For those who are seeking simple, escapist cinema there's no better release this opening weekend than Fast Five
with its macho posing and street bravado.
By the way, whose idea was it to team Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson?
I know that's not a word. Who cares?
Both actors aren't particularly known for their thespian prowess, but both are also endlessly likeable and project a charismatic screen presence that makes you simply have to watch them when they're on screen. Together? It's kind of an off-kilter, tongue-in-cheek smolder that is just endlessly entertaining. Are they really having fun? It sure looks like they're having lots of fun.
Unlike his first two Fast
films, Lin really gets it right with Fast Five.
The actors, none of whom are particularly brilliant, are nonetheless perfect here as they're obviously in on the joke and giving the film a light, breezy feeling that works absolutely delightfully with what's going on here. The last two films had a tendency to take themselves a wee bit seriously, but Fast Five
screenwriter Chris Morgan adds in enough witty one-liners and character chemistry that for the first time in awhile all these folks matter as much as their cars and chiseled bodies.
As is nearly always true for the Fast
films, almost nothing here makes sense but who really cares? Even Han's appearance is a bit weird, given his being seemingly taken out in a previous film. So, is this a prequel? If this is a prequel then,well, I can't think about it all without making my head hurt.
Who really cares if it all makes sense? It's shamelessly fun with action sequences that are completely over-the-top, chase sequences that are 100% impossible yet remarkable and, well, it's just all so fast and so furious.
If you saw the first four, then Fast Five
is a must-see. If you haven't seen any of the films in the series, but you absolutely crave mindless action flicks then you can safely see this one without having to catch the first four beforehand (though, perhaps, at least the first one would help you appreciate the characters more).
Sometimes, all a film has to do is entertain and Fast Five
entertains in abundance. While we won't be seeing any of these folks walking up for a golden statuette anytime soon, if box-office numbers hold up there's virtually no doubt that a sixth film in the series is right around the corner.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic