Fast Five (2011)

Directed by Justin Lin
Written by Chris Morgan

Hollywood seems to have fallen in love with releasing sequel after sequel after sequel. This point can easily be proven when looking at which films are on slate to release just this year. The Hangover Part II, Kung Fu Panda 2, a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean, an eighth Harry Potter, a third Transformers, a fourth Scream already released, and this film, Fast Five. But who can blame them when Fast Five can make over $30 million on opening night, according to boxofficemojo.com? These movies are proven winners with audiences, so why would a fifth The Fast and the Furious be any different?

Director Justin Lin, who also directed the previous two films in the series, is back behind the camera and main stars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster are joined by various characters from the series’ past, including Tyrese Gibson and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson also joins as a ridiculous bounty hunter. Dom (Diesel) gets busted out of jail by Brian (Walker) and his sister Mia (Brewster), so the trio must flee to Rio for safe haven. And when funds run low, they are forced to take up a job, which is not what it seems and gets them in even more trouble, including with manhunter Dobbs (Johnson), who works for the U.S. Government and never fails to get his man. Insert action scenes and car scenes, superfluous plot, which culminates with a marquee job for all the marbles in the climax of the film.

Anyone expecting anything more or anything less would be seriously misguided. Applying the critical eye one would notice stale direction from Lin, which included some clunky moments of dialogue delivered by stiff actors incapable of truly convincing emotional expression. One would also notice the absence of much of a story worth anything more than a medium through which massive explosions and exciting action scenes can unfold. The screenwriters attempt to infuse the script with a subplot and character development behind the main heist and man hunt of the film, but that too falls flat in the hands of Lin and the cast of actors. Perhaps trimming the plot that runs secondary would have trimmed the film down from its bloated 2 hour 10 minute runtime. Also, perhaps one more shot of the “Jesus the Redeemer” statue or Copacabana Beach and this would have been a travel film instead of an action film.

But let’s be honest, this is an action film, so it is all about the action, which is good and quite entertaining. The film asks the viewer to suspend all disbelief as there are multiple moments in the film where multiple eyes in the theater could have rolled. But all kidding aside, by the middle of the film, enough momentum had been built to turn the film into pure entertainment, which is what the summer blockbuster is all about. And as we move into May, it is safe to say that summer blockbuster season is here with the arrival of Fast Five. For art films, see the theater down the street. For important social dramas, wait until the fall season. For good, entertaining action flicks, please enter the queue now.

Fast Five, however, does not change the game of action films or car films. It has some nice action set pieces, but it does nothing extraordinary. It does deliver a solid punch of fun, popcorn action and entertainment and Dwayne Johnson is a ton of fun as the hardnosed, extremely serious federal agent after the notorious Dominic Toretto and Brian O’Conner. For anyone looking to escape the mundane of reality, Fast Five may be the cure if you like ridiculous action and plot that comes secondary.

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