Movie Review: Fast Five
Stars: 3 out of 5
'Fast Five' is the fifth film in the 'Fast and the Furious' series. It breaks from the formula of its predecessors by focusing on a heist instead of the car culture and illegal street racing that the series is known for. The sequel sees the return of series regulars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster. Dwayne Johnson joins the cast as a DEA agent. It's a fun film that breathes new life into the stagnant series.
The film begins with Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) rescuing Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) from a prison bus. The trio escapes to Rio De Janiero, where they're quickly involved in a plot to steal cars from a train with their friend Vince (Matt Schulze). They come into contact with DEA Agents, who are immediately killed by Zizi (Michael Irby), one of their compatriots. They steal one of the cars, which belonged to crime lord Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida).
The set up of the film is similar to many other films in the crime genre. Already, 'Fast Five' has disposed of its car culture origins and gone into heist territory, with two distinct parties at odds. Then, the film adds Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), a DEA agent investigating the murder of his fellow agents. Once this third ingredient is added, the film really takes off, with Hobbs looking for Brian, Mia and Dom, while they look to steal money from Reyes.
The heist plot in the film takes the characters into an all-new direction. The feel of 'Fast Five' is very much in the vein of 'Ocean's Eleven' and 'he Italian Job' with a large cast of partners (comprising of characters from previous 'Fast and the Furious' films) coming together to pull off the robbery. While 'Fast Five' feels like a transitional it does a great job in setting the series up for the future.
Newcomers may feel a bit lost at first, but knowledge of the series isn't necessary to follow the story. There are cameos scattered throughout, but often these side characters come and go without any real impact on the plot.
Dwayne Johnson is a big part of the film's success. Johnson has always had charisma to spare and here, he adds a bit of humor and fun to the proceedings. His scenes with Vin Diesel are great, giving action film fans something they've been hoping to see for a long time. It's not quite on par with seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone in the same movie during their 80s heyday, but it's close.
'Fast Five' is director Justin Lin's third installment of the 'Fast and the Furious' series. By now, the series has become his vision, with its frenetic pace and humor being a hallmark of his abilities. While some of the humor is tongue-in-cheek, it never goes over the line into camp or parody. The action, while highly implausible, is fun and original enough to please even the staunchest critics. Taking the film to Rio de Janeiro was a great move by Lin as well. He takes full advantage of the locale, with some stunning cinematography to give viewers a feel for the underworld in Brazil.
'Fast Five' is a good film and is arguably the best in the 'Fast and the Furious' series. The action is excellent, the pace is quick and the characters are fun. It does set up a sequel, so it will be interesting to see if the series can continue to be as much as fun as this film is.