Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fast Five

Year: 2011
Director: Justin Lin
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster

Plot: Beginning where Fast And Furious left off, Brian and Mia break Dom free during his prison transport and flee to Rio de Janeiro. While there, they take on a job that eventually goes south, putting them in the crosshairs of Hernan Reyes, the local mobster and Hobbs, the government agent sent to hunt them down and bring them back across the border.

Review: When they first began, the Fast & Furious series was more about fast cars and faster women. But now, they've evolved beyond that. Sure, we still have fast and sleek vehicles flanked by really hot women, but in the hands of Justin Lin, we have superb stunts, explosions and hard hitting action.

It doesn't matter that the plot seems shallow at times, the acting varying between average and wooden, or logic seems to be abandoned more often than not, the fact is, we have an awesome time watching it unfold on screen. To that end, Lin has to be praised for pulling off Fast Five in the best way possible. How? He gets cast members from the previous instalments to show up. He plans for gravity defying car stunts to be executed. Then he adds Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson to it. So how could it not be fun?

But, like its predecessors, Fast Five has its own flaws, firstly the acting. Over the last decade, Diesel and Walker's acting have not improved much. Diesel is still a one note stoic hero and Walker is the bland sidekick trying too hard to emote. Jordana Brewster is slightly better, as is The Rock, who initially appeared way too one dimensional, but gets better as the story progresses. The other cast members i.e. the crew assembled by Dom and Brian to assist them, turn out to be the more interesting ones. Tyrese Gibson shines as Brian's friend Roman Pearce and gets the best lines here, much better than the ones he used in 2 Fast 2 Furious. Tego Calderon and Don Omar reprise their roles as the two bickering Latinos from Fast 4, and provide some laughs as well. The gorgeous Gal Gadot is also back and is probably the new babe here now that Brewster's age is showing, and Sung Kang is back as Han, the token Asian. Also welcome is Matt Schulze from Fast 1, whose past with Walker's character gives some dramatic potential, though it's predictable in a way.

It's not just the bad acting that becomes obvious. There are also large plotholes big enough for a car to drive through, and the aforementioned logic deviations, and the fact that the film is a tad too long. With some tighter editing, I would have enjoyed this film a bit more.

But to its credit, Fast Five is well shot, with some nice action set pieces and an insane car chase at the film's climax which is probably only rivaled by that crazy highway chase sequence in Bad Boys 2. Plus, we get to see Diesel and Johnson go mano a mano in intense and violent fashion. But I am a bit disappointed to see that Lin decided that this is Diesel's picture after all, if you know what I mean.

At 130 minutes, Fast Five can be a bit mind numbing and tiring, but it isn't for nothing. It's loads and loads of fun. Check out the post-credits sequence to see where the next instalment will go. (4/5)

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