Director: Justin Lin
Key Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Sung Kang, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Dwayne Johnson (The Rock).
Five Point Summary:
1. Big dumb action scenes
2. Look, it’s The Rock!
3. Yes, it’s yet another plot involving drug cartels.
4. Rio looks amazeballs
5. The safe – what a twist!
Bringing my epic catch-up weekend to a close, I watched Fast Five for the first time. To quote/paraphrase Father Ted, it was like two completely different sheep. Of course in this context the two sheep are Fast Five and the previous four Fast movies. The decision to eschew the focus on car modding and/or driving for the same of it in favour of big stupendous action moments, an actual plot, and witty banter between the ensemble cast was clearly a good move. I’d go so far as to say that it’s my favourite of the series to date.
Kudos also to The Rock for adding a breath of fresh air to proceedings, even if he spends most of the film in various warehouses looking shiny and moaning at people. He also looks stupidly big, in fact he’s not far off from looking like his WWE All Stars video game caricature. To me, anyway. After comparing the two, I’m not actually sure that stands up.
Having a character like this has helped the franchise immensely, even if it might alienate the fans who are only in it for the modding/street racing aspect (and for those people, I suggest you find and play Street Racer on the Super Nintendo. It’s not relevant in any way but just saying “street racing” made me think of the game…).
All of the driving scenes served the plot for a change, and once again whilst the action scenes were completely ludicrous, they were all well shot (none of this shakey cam nonsense) and are just big, dumb fun. In fact the final 20 minutes or so of the film sees the team heist a safe and drag it, via two modified cars, driven by Toretto and O’Connor, and much mayhem and destruction ensues. Now, big daft car chases like this work well for me, whereas street racing just for cred and giggles doesn’t. It’s all the better for letting the scene breathe – I can imagine the script was only about 3 pages long for the entire sequence. On a serious note, I’d be surprised if it was much more than that, but the reality is that it doesn’t matter. It’s a fun, over the top chase and I loved every second of it.
There’s a time and a place for big dumb action movies, and Fast Five knows its audience well enough that it can throw everything into the mix and see most of it stick. The detritus that drips slowly to the floor is still good fun, and even if it doesn’t quite work you’re moving onto the next big action scene before you have time to think about it.
So whilst there isn’t a huge amount of characterisation to be seen (characters have dialogue and one liners but that’s pretty much the extent of it), having some semblance of story no matter how ridiculous marks this a step above the previous four films.
Favourite scene: The chase through the streets of Rio. A suitably epic/ludicrous finale.
Quote: “Aright listen up! The guys we’re after are professional runners. They like speed and are guaranteed to go down the hardest possible way so make sure you’ve got your thunderwear on. We find ’em we take ’em as a team and we bring ’em back. And above all else we don’t ever, ever let them get into cars.”
Silly Moment: Escaping through the streets of Rio with a massive safe attached to the back of two cars.