Directed by: Justin Lin
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Joaquim de Almeida
Rated: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action, sexual content and language).
Two guys who drive off a cliff at triple-digit speed and leap out of their speeding convertible before hitting the water a good seven stories down would almost certainly not survive. Two sedans probably couldn’t haul a multi-ton safe around the streets of Rio de Janeiro. A plan to steal cars from a speeding train that involves driving a flatbed truck next to the train, cutting a hole in its side, and dragging the cars out onto the truck before they back off it and speed off across the desert is absurd.
This is all true. However, it’s also true that if these ridiculous things are done by macho, attractive guys and scantily-clad women in a flick full of explosions, gunfire, and trick driving set to a loud soundtrack, no one will care, and that is emphatically the case here. “Fast Five” is not a movie you go see because of its realism. In fact, if you’re anything like me, you will go see this film almost entirely on the strength of the drawn-out brawl between Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel. It does not disappoint, fellow action fans.
“Fast Five” is the fifth installment in the street-racing flick franchise that started with “The Fast & The Furious” back in 2001. These films have become increasingly ridiculous and (thankfully) increasingly self-aware as the years have gone by. These are popcorn movies, flicks you go see so you can cheer dialog like “Chances are sooner or later, we are gonna end up behind bars or buried in a ditch somewhere. But not today,” delivered in Vin Diesel’s best gravelly voice.
The story is sufficiently preposterous that there’s no sense summarizing it here. Suffice it to say that Diesel, Walker, and half a dozen actors from earlier installments of the franchise get together to go up against the biggest, baddest drug kingpin in Rio, played by the fantastic Joaquim de Almeida (you may remember him as Bucho in “Desperado”). Meanwhile, they must elude Johnson (I am never going to get used to not calling him The Rock) and his team of elite FBI manhunters.
The men are all ripped (except for gear geek Ludacris), the women are all thin and half-naked, and the acting is irrelevant. What makes this film work is director Justin Lin, who also helmed the “Tokyo Drift” and “Fast & Furious” entries in the franchise. He knows how to set up an action sequence so that you can actually tell what’s happening, and how to shoot a complex car chase so that you can keep track of what’s going on. This guy is a B-action-flick director to watch. It helps that he has a good sense of humor, as evidenced by his work on the TV series “Community.” Too much seriousness is the kiss of death in this kind of film.
The ridiculousness is pretty much wall-to-wall. There is the occasional slightly-too-long dialog scene, but mostly you get what you expect from a “Fast & Furious” flick: fast cars, crazy stunts, and hot people. There’s more of a heist feel to this entry, and less in the way of street racing, but not enough to make it stop feeling like a part of the franchise.
If you watched the previews for this movie and thought to yourself, “hell yes!” do not miss “Fast Five.” If on the other hand, you like intricate plots, character development, and any sense of realism in your movies, stay away.