Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Review - Fast Five (2011)

“Chances are sooner or later, we are gonna end up behind bars or buried in a ditch somewhere. But not today.”

Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul
Walker, Jordana Brewster, The Rock, Sung Kang
Director: Justin Lin
Writers: Chris Morgan

If you were to look up the definition of dumb fun in the fictional dictionary I use, then you would find that The Fast and The Furious would be used as an example. This movie series has more holes in it that swiss cheese, and I can understand people just not liking it. While some of the car stuff can be cool, when CGI is used the films look more like video games. Also the acting can be just plain bad at times. Yet despite all its flaws I really dig these movies. I shut my brain off and enjoy the stupidity, and lets face it Vin Diesel does have charisma, and the best films in the series are when he’s front and centre. So along comes the fifth in the series and the question must be asked. Does this movie in anyway justify its existence?

As an action movie, Fast Five isn’t too bad. It starts off with a decent action set piece and moves on from there pretty rapidly. Unlike some of the Fast and Furious Franchise (here by dubbed FFF for the rest of this review) there aren’t that many slow points. We are either getting action or character comedy. This in my mind makes it a step up in the series, yet there is one thing lacking in this movie that might piss off a few fans. Some of the street races are cut out. In fact there is only one street race and it’s pretty short. The series has slowly morphed away from its roots and turned into just a straight up vehicle (sorry about that) for car action set pieces. While I personally don’t have a problem with this, I think a lot of the loyal fans will be thrown off as their culture was kind of at the centre and now it’s pushed to the side. Sure there is some of that on the screen, but it’s obvious the plots are moving further and further away from this base.

Now with Vin Diesel playing Vin Diesel in this Vin Diesel movie, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he knows what he’s doing. Toretto is like an old trusty suit that he can just slip into. Paul Walker while not being a very good actor, knows at least the character of Brian O’Conner and has developed good buddy chemistry with Vin Diesel. Jordana is okay in the role of Mia, her chemistry with Paul Walker has also developed over the course of the movies so I at least feel like it’s a proper couple on the screen. As always she does get placed into the background, and while there is a character arc somewhat in this movie, she does appear to be short changed by the story. Out of all the returning secondary characters, I was really happy to see Han (Sung Kang). I thought he was excellent in FF3 Tokyo Drift, and in this movie he shows how he just has this easy charm. Of course a lot of eyes will be on the new addition to the line up. The Rock plays Agent Hobbs, a man whose main goal is to track down the fugitives Toretto and O’Conner. As with all his action roles he brings an intensity; and this does add a little freshness to the series. I think The Rock is an actual credible actor and if he just picked the right projects, could really make something of himself. Unfortunately he is let down by some of the dialogue which stinks of cheese, and yet he makes the most of it and is at least an equal with Vin.

The back drop of Rio is actually a nice change to the scenery, and like Tokyo Drift before it, does allow the film to stand out. Also the car scenes are great, and if you are a fan of cars I’m sure there will be many drool worthy moments. As for the heist aspect of the film it does seem to try and aim for the Ocean’s Eleven factor of all these characters coming together and yet doesn’t quite get there. Also the villain of the movie just didn’t really grab my interest and I was more fascinated by the inevitable collision of Vin Diesel and The Rock. This of course hurts the movie, and while it is fast paced I was just waiting for the next bit of action rather than the story. Justin Lin does an admirable job holding the movie together, but at the end of the day there isn’t a lot of meat on the bones of this series and therefore will probably never be elevated to the level of classic action movie.

At this stage in the game you’re either a fan of the FFF or you are not. I don’t think I can convince non fans to put there money down for a ticket. Looking at this movie, there are just not enough new elements to draw in new comers. So I will say that it’s one of the stronger movies in the series and if you like seeing Vin and Paul driving around like a maniac then go for it. Otherwise just move on and go and watch some better action movies. Personally this fifth movie made me want to stay for the long haul as I’m sure that there will be more of these movies down the track.

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