Last weekend the 5th installment of the “Fast & Furious” franchise dubbed “Fast Five” hit theaters in a major way. On its first day it made over 30 million and its weekend total broke the 80 million dollar mark which set a record for April movie releases. It could be said that this was largely in part to a massive media campaign that included billboards, commercials, the entire cast on twitter plugging the movie like mad, as well as various contests and giveaways. If you haven’t seen it yet you’re probably wondering if Fast Five lives up to the massive hype machine behind it. Well, at the end of the day it is up to you to make that choice but I’ll give you my take on the film and come to your own conclusions and decide if Fast Five is worth your 12 bucks or not.
DISCLAIMER: My review will mention parts of the plot which could be considered as SPOILERS. If you want to avoid the spoilers and merely want to know what I think then scroll all the way down until you see my VERDICT.
OK, here I go with the review then…
Fast Five literally begins where the last movie “Fast & Furious” left off which was the daring moving prison bus break of Vin Diesel’s character Dominic Torretto. We actually get to see exactly how Paul Walker AKA “Brian” manage to pull off the rescue. Trust me when I say they did it in spectacular fashion! Fast forward a bit and you come to find that every law agency in America is on the hunt for not only Dominic but Brian and even Dom’s sister Mia who is now fully committed to Brian.
Brian and Mia find themselves in Rio De Janeiro seeking asylum from and old friend and it is there where they reunite with Dom and fall into old habits, AKA death-defying hijacking. The first hijack scene really goes for the old west style as the entire sequence takes place on a speeding train transporting precious automotive cargo across Brazil. In the middle of the job there is a double-cross with a few fellow hijackers and things quickly go awry. In the process a few Feds get taken out which prompts the U.S. government to send Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) to Rio to bring back the trio dead or alive.
Johnson really brings a Terminator meets old school Texas Marshall vibe to his roll as Hobbs as he relentlessly hunts down Dom, Brian, and Mia without a moments rest. He makes it very clear that his job is to do one thing and one thing only: bring in the people that show up on his list. He couldn’t give a flying front bumper about who they are or what they’ve done and that pretty much makes him a badass.
The moment Johnson and Diesel are on screen together the only thing you can think about is the inevitable fight scene between the two characters and how much collateral damage there will be in the rumble.
Once Dom and Brian realize that Hobbs will stop at nothing to bring them in they come to the conclusion that their only way out is to still a massive amount of money from Brazil’s most powerful crime lord and buy their way into new lives, and freedom. Realizing that their plan will be no simple task they decide that they need to “put a team together”. Enter all the cool characters from all the previous F&F films to form an Ocean’s 11-esque crew with each member bringing their own expertise to pull off the biggest heist they’ve ever attempted.
You would think at this point things would start to slow down as the newly assembled crew gets to know each other but director Justin Lin actually does a pretty good job of keeping the story moving without sacrificing character development moments or humor. Sure, there are a few cheesy jokes and lines sprinkled throughout the dialogue but would it really be a “Fast” movie if there wasn’t any of that?
Anyhow the team devises an elaborate plan to get the crime lord’s cash and once things get put into motion the rest of the movie becomes a non-stop sequence of action that has everything from shoot outs to explosions to car chases most of which are riddled with gratuitous product placement from Dodge. However the Dodge product placement doesn’t push out appearances from other awesome rides like a vintage Skyline 2000GT or a Porsche 911 GT3 RS. But before the last stint of action goes down it all kicks off with the highly anticipated fight between Dominic and Agent Hobbs. If you take nothing else away from this review rest assured that the Johnson vs Diesel fight scene is definitely the highlight of the movie. Not the street racing, not the car chases, not the shootouts but the fight!
I am going to avoid talking about the ending since you may actually watch this flick but I will say that most of the action that takes place during the climax does have a point and the story doesn’t waver too much from its course as things start to work themselves out.
Does all the shooting, explosions, punching, and racing add up to a desirable viewing experience? I am going to have to say yes. The key to enjoying Fast Five is to know what to expect when going in. If you’re looking for elaborate plot-twists and cerebral dialogue then you should probably save yourself a trip and just fire up your Blu-Ray of “The Matrix” again. However, if you’re looking to kick back and watch a bunch of dudes beat the crap out of each other while shooting everything in sight and driving awesome cars, then you will like Fast Five just as much as I did. Heck, the Diesel vs Johnson fight alone is worth the ticket price!
I give Fast Five a definite “Watch”!
P.S. When the movie is over and the first credit sequence begins, stay in your seat and wait it out a bit. You’ll be rewarded for it.