Mark Reviews Movies

FAST FIVE

1  Stars (out of 4)

Director: Justin Lin

Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Joaquim de Almeida, Matt Schulze, Tego Calderon, Don Omar

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action, sexual content and language)

Running Time: 2:10

Release Date: 4/29/11


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Review by Mark Dujsik | April 28, 2011

If I cared a lick about any of the characters in Fast Five, who have been reunited across the void of this motor-fetishistic franchise, there might be something at stake in the movie. Stakes are something this series has decidedly lacked, considering it is populated by a bunch of basic types (cop, criminal, sister, girlfriend, other criminals of varying skills) that are further reduced to motor-heads. There's always been a sense that the characters care more about the fates of their cars than those of the other people around them and especially their own.

So it means nothing to me that Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) is back on the run, and it means only the slightest bit more that Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) have gotten back together and are expecting a baby (Expect a car seat in a souped-up station wagon in an inevitable future installment). The movie, like its predecessors, really only treats interpersonal bonds as a concept that it knows about but can't quite come to grips with, considering all the horsepower and crashes upon which it would rather focus.

The inclusion of a host of characters from the previous movies means, if possible, even less than nothing. After all, we really only got to know Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) from the second movie, and the memory of Han (Sung Kang) and Gisele (Gal Gadot) is just a bit fresher. Vince (Matt Schulze) is such a mandatory character that he hasn't been in a single movie since the first one, so it only makes complete sense that he would show up out of the blue to remind Dom (and us) that Dom was once a vicious criminal before he softened up to become a hero somehow, somewhere off-screen.

The characters are more important elements here than in any of the other movies, and that decision by screenwriter Chris Morgan is the screenplay's deadliest fault. After a ridiculous opening stunt involving a jail bus (After flipping multiple times, a news report assures us there were no fatalities, but that doesn't change the fact it's a foolish and insanely risky plan for rescuing someone) and an effective sequence involving a train (A bridge approaches far too slowly for there to be much tension, but it's still the only sequence that has some life in it), the momentum screeches to a halt.

Dom, Brian, and Mia have decided they are finished with their lives of crime, since they are all among the most wanted people in the United States. They flee to Rio de Janeiro for safety, and Dom decides it's time for one last job. After that fails, leading the power-hungry but disappointingly tame drug lord Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida) to be on their tail, Dom decides it's time for one more last job: Steal all of Reyes' money.

Enter Roman, Tej, Han, Gisele, Leo (Tego Calderon), and Santos (Don Omar), who are called in to help on this heist. They must break in to a local police station where Reyes has his money locked up in a high-tech vault, and their lives are made harder by a determined DEA agent named Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson, uttering inane dialogue like a good sport), who thinks Dom and Brian killed federal agents during the train robbery.

What follows are a series of sketches, meant to illuminate those skills we heard during the voiceover introductions to the characters, like when Roman has to adjust his smooth-talking abilities for a male cop or when the rest of them drive around really fast. Races are missing but hinted at, and the substitute is a montage in which all the characters take the opportunity to drive around in a circle, attempting to beat a series of cameras. They have bland exchanges about what they'll do with their money and coo well-wishes when Mia tells them she's pregnant.

Occasionally, a fistfight or shootout erupts, and it all leads to a destructive chase through the streets of Rio, as Dom and Brian haul a gigantic vault behind two sports cars. It's a lot of chaos, diminished immensely by the fact that it makes no physical sense (It takes two cars to pull the safe except when it only takes one, and somehow the whole contraption manages to gain speed despite hitting multiple obstacles). This isn't the dumbest part of Fast Five, though I'm certain if you asked Morgan or director Justin Lin about how this works within the laws of motion, they'd probably respond, "Newton who?"

Copyright 2011 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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