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Fast Five Starts, Ends with a Bang

  • Christian Hamaker Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2011 4 Apr
  • COMMENTS
<i>Fast Five</i> Starts, Ends with a Bang

DVD Release Date: October 4, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: April 29, 2011
Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action, sexual content and language)
Genre: Action, Thriller, Sequel
Run Time: 130 min.
Director: Justin Lin
Actors: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Dwayne Johnson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, Matt Schulze, Sung Kang, Elsa Pataky, Gal Gadot, Joaquim de Almeida

If it’s big, dumb and loud, it must be a summer movie. But if it’s the fifth film in a series, chances are it won’t be enjoyably big, dumb and loud.

Luckily, Fast Five defies expectations. Although it’s opening the last weekend in April, Fast Five looks and feels like the first big movie of summer 2011. And if this is what the summer-movie season has in store, it could be promising. Although Fast Five doesn’t clear the bar set by the best summer popcorn films of the past, it’s big, dumb, loud and much more enjoyable than Fast & Furious, the previous film in this series.

Sure, the film has stretches where nothing much happens, and the dialogue is laughable in spots. But no one goes to a Fast and the Furious film for the script. They go to see good-looking stars drive fast while dodging bullets and explosions.

Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) do just that in Fast Five, and director Justin Lin (Fast & Furious, Annapolis) orchestrates a couple of genuinely spectacular scenes to open and close the film. In between, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson steals the movie with a humorous performance as pompous federal agent Hobbs, relentlessly pursuing Dom and his accomplices. The dynamic between Hobbs and Dom gives the movie an energy and wit that Dom’s relationship with Brian can’t match. It promises good things for future installments of the franchise.

The film begins with Brian freeing Dom from a bus full of prisoners, which ends up crashing and flipping numerous times. Somehow, Dom emerges from the wreckage unscathed—the first of many scenes that stretch believability. But with a film like this, you’re either on board early with that sort of absurdity or you shouldn’t bother buying a ticket.

Once free, Dom joins Brian, Mia and Vince (Matt Schulze) for an “easy” job of stealing some cars. They end up in Rio de Janeiro, working for, and then against, smooth criminal Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida). As Dom’s team tries to find a vault filled with money, they also have to avoid Hobbs, who has a reputation for always bringing in his target. The story builds to Brian and Dom roaring through the streets of Rio, pulling the huge vault behind their cars and wiping out buildings, vehicles and anything else standing in their way.

Dom’s team includes Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) Han (Sung Kang) and Elena (Elsa Pataky), who collectively provide comic relief and cast diversity. The interplay among the characters is enjoyable at times, although Diesel’s line readings generated unintended laughter more than once at a preview screening of the film.

The film’s best asset may be Lin, whose earlier directing credits include the far inferior Fast & Furious as well as Tokyo Drift and the painful Annapolis. The visual and kinetic energy of Furious Five indicates that those earlier misfires were a proving ground for a budding talent. In Fast Five, Lin assembles lush visuals and effective music early in the film, carrying the story past a few dull stretches and overcoming a silly script. Like the instant-classic sequence early in the film during which Dom’s team steals cars from a moving train, Fast Five moves quickly, has some “wow” moments and builds to a smashing finale.

Fast Five is exactly what a summer popcorn movie should be. Here’s hoping the rest of the summer action flicks can live up to this one.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity: “God”; “s-it”; “f”-word; “hell”; crude references to male and female genitalia; “d-mn” and “g-dd-mn”; “a-s.” 
  • Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: A few scenes of drinking.
  • Sex/Nudity: Kissing, revealing outfits, partially exposed rear ends; bikinis and other bathing suits; lewd joke about a woman’s legs.
  • Violence/Crime: Action movie violence includes a car making a bus crash; theft; high-speed car chases and drag racing; punching and fighting; bodies thrown off moving vehicles; men strung up and bound by chains; necks snapped; machine-gun fire; men shot; Dom hits someone with a blunt object; dead bodies shown; a bullet wound bleeds.
  • Religion/Morals: Dom reminisces about his dad’s churchgoing habit and Sunday cooking; a cross is worn around Dom’s neck.

Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@hotmail.com.