Fast Five Review
by Bret Dorman
In case you were out of the loop, there is now a fifth Fast/Furious installment in theaters. As far as the first four are concerned, for being ‘car’ movies, I don’t think I would put any of the car chase sequences on my Top 10 Car Chases. And while you could argue they were ‘just plain good entertainment’ or ‘so bad they’re good’ kind of movies, if you are a Car Movie Franchise and you have 4 movies out and not one of them has a memorable car chase in it, that’s pretty bad.
So is the Fifth the one where they finally get it right? Or just another burn out?
The Story: Paul Walker and Vin Diesel steal cars. They steal cars so they can steal money. They are bad guys. But they are also good too. Everyone alive from the franchise comes back for the biggest (and fastest! (and most furioustest!!!)) installment yet! Also… The Rock… is a FUCKING BADASS!
Two things interested me in this movie right off the bat and they didn’t disappoint.
One, from the trailers, it looked like Director Justin Lin was focusing more on practical effects instead of the CGI crap that filled some of its predecessors (I don’t think Fast & Furious (4) had one real car in the entire movie…). But Fast Five really tries its hardest to do everything it can to make the cars do all the work. Sure the opening action scene had its fair share of CGI, but it integrated it in with some great practical stuff as well.
The second thing is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. His introduction to the movie is him walking off a plane and spouting off cop lingo and exposition/back story that we’ve all heard before. But The Rock has, without a doubt, in my opinion, the most badass delivery for action movies ever (the best of the best still goes to The Action God Himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger). The Rock owns every scene he is in. He owns scenes he’s not in because during those times I’m thinking “Hey… The Rock isn’t in this scene… Okay, its been about 10 minutes since we’ve seen The Rock… When are we going to see The Rock next… I WANT THE ROCK!”
The movie is fun and lets you sit back and watch these characters try to plan a heist. There could be too much emphasis on the goofing off parts and not enough action beats. But at least when there is action, it shows fun and imagination and innovation. It shows us something we haven’t scene before and a reason to come back.
Which brings me to my first big complaint. To me, this movie treats way too many “Isn’t this fun because its like from one of the other movies” call backs. The Fast/Furious franchise hasn’t earned that yet. In fact, after this one, I hear they are going to be switching gears (Pun Intended!) from Car Movie to Heist Flick. That means that its taken five movies to find its footing.
Most people will probably ‘enjoy’ seeing all the characters come back but I could have taken them or left them. I found Tyrese’s character to be stupid. Most of his lines are terrible but they all got multiple laughs in my theater, so who knows. I did sort of enjoy Sung Kang and Gal Gadot’s little comic relief romance. But most of the side characters were forgettable and I think to start in a new direction they should have started a new set of characters. Although maybe they will for next time and this one will be nice for ‘fans of the franchise’ to have a mega ensemble Fast/Furious cast.
And the two heavy hitters? I’ve never had a problem with Vin Diesel. I actually think Vin Diesel could be better than he is but he’s just in a bunch of crappy movies. But Paul Walker has no excuse. He lacks confidence in front of the camera and has some terrible delivery, maybe the worst of the whole crew. He definitely needed Fast Five more than Fast Five needed him.
I don’t think this really is a spoiler since they hint at it in the previews but the final car chase scene is really impressive. Its fun and exciting and shows some things we haven’t scene before. Its almost Michael Bay car chase good.
I do like how they got away with the money in the end, but I don’t like how easily The Rock changed his mind then changed it back. Either he is a ‘good guy’ or a ‘bad guy’. You can’t change multiple times if you aren’t a main character and even that gets annoying. I am hoping they bring him back but secretly part of me is hoping that he has moved on to some other stuff by then. The Rock has the most potential to become a Huge Mega Action Star to last the test of time out of anyone working in Hollywood right now. But he just doesn’t quite have the resume yet.
Also, if you are lucky/lazy, you probably caught the end bit, where they announce Michele Rodriguez will be coming back. In my theater, this got a HUGE! gasp. People started freaking out and the chatter noise increased ten fold. But I don’t get it. They killed her off in 4. Now they want to bring her back. Seems like sloppy writing… its like Soap Opera writing. Just an excuse to amp up anticipation for 6 without actually doing anything to back it up.
And on that topic of bringing back characters for no reason, when they did it in this movie with Matt Schulze’s character it just made no sense and really was pointless. I mean, he betrayed the crew? Then he pops back up at the exact moment they need him (and they don’t know they need him until he points it out)? Then they let him join the crew? Only so he could die in the next action scene for a ‘tear jerker’ moment? Fuck that.
Lastly, I can’t stress this enough, but The Rock is awesome. When that Brazilian chick is looking over the folder and says “This doesn’t make sense” and The Rock walks over, grabs the folder and says “I’ll show you what makes sense” and throws it on the ground. I was the only one laughing in my theater (and yet Tyrese was killing it…) Also, he has the only F-Bomb in this PG13 flick. Which is a Badge for his Badassness.
In Conclusion, Fast Five is easily my favorite of the ‘franchise’ that is Fast/Furious. Its weird to call this a franchise because mostly the ‘franchise’ has been lame milking of the cash cow instead of trying to set up some good, unique, and likable characters.
Its also weird because I hate that this movie relies so much on drawing its ‘humorous’ characters from the first 4 movies, but I also love that they strived and succeeded in making the action stand out not only from the action in the first four, but in action movies period.
Also, The Rock is Fucking Badass.
Final Grade: B