Fast Five : Movie Review

Posted by Eddie Pasa on April 29, 2011 in / No Comments


MPA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, sexual content and language. Contains a mid-credits scene. Running time: 130 minutes. Released by Universal Pictures.

(Originally published at The Rogers Revue on April 29, 2011.)

In 2003, the remake of The Italian Job was released to big box office numbers and good critical notices; as is the case when something like this happens, the studio starts bandying about possible ideas for a sequel.  What came of it was something known as The Brazilian Job, which was to have brought the entire cast back for another heist.  As fans of The Italian Job know, The Brazilian Job never came to fruition.  However, Fast Five is good enough to have been that sequel.  Set in Rio De Janeiro, Fast Five is an exhilarating and hilarious thrill ride, and most likely the best of the whole Fast and Furious series.

Fast cars, exotic locations, hot women, muscular men… and a heist in the middle of it all.  That’s basically all there is to these movies; the general quality of each film is largely based on its screenplay and the direction.  The Fast and Furious franchise has seen three directors, the most recent of which is Justin Lin.  Having done The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, and Fast Five, he has grown not only as a franchise filmmaker, but each film since Tokyo Drift has gotten better and better, culminating in the awesome spectacle that is Fast Five.  He gives a much-needed kineticism to the newest installment of the life of former FBI agent-turned-smuggler Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), caught once again in the snares of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his merry band of hijackers.

As Fast Five begins with the closing seconds of Fast and Furious, Dominic, Brian, and his girlfriend, Dominic’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) head down to Rio De Janeiro, where the promise of freedom awaits them.  Instead, they find Vince (Matt Schulze), last seen heavily injured in The Fast and The Furious, who proposes that they go in with him on one last job before they disappear forever, with the loot being three muscle cars being transported via passenger train.  Sounds simple enough, except for two things: 1) the cars are meant to go to Brazilian crime lord Hernan Reyes (an always-enjoyable Joaquim de Almeida), and 2) the cars are in the custody of the DEA, whose agents are on the train supposedly protecting their transit.  Mia manages to get one of the cars out, but it happens to be a car containing a microchip that has all of Reyes’ drop points, money shack locations, and transaction information.

And if having Reyes and his army on their tail wasn’t bad enough, elite Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and his team have been sent by the US government to arrest Dominic and Brian.  Hobbs is definitely not someone you’d want tracking you down if you want to disappear; he and his team are good at finding the impossibly-hidden, and it’s only a matter of time before they find Dominic, Brian, and Mia.  After being falsely accused of killing three DEA agents during the train heist, Dominic and Brian decide to go after Reyes, the man directly responsible for having them tortured, beaten, and nearly murdered, and that’s where the fun begins.  Dominic and Brian recruit players from the entire Fast and Furious series, each lending their specific talents and humor to the task at hand, the finale of which is best seen to be believed.

What surprised me the most about Fast Five was its overall balance, as these types of films are usually overloaded to one end of the spectrum and severely lacking in others – too much action, not enough character development, too much drama, not enough humor, etc… Throw that out the window, because Justin Lin and screenwriter Chris Morgan nailed it right on the head; the action, drama, and humor beats are so evenly paced that the film’s 130-minute running time won’t even feel like 90 minutes.  With each car chase, gunfight, and exciting heist, there are always breather points in between, be it dramatic or humorous, that don’t drag on too long and expose just the right amount of story before moving on to the next set piece.  I honestly can’t think of a better summer kickoff movie than this one, with as much as it has to offer.  And if you’re not a fan of the series, don’t worry – you’ll be able to follow the movie completely.  Outside of recurring characters, there are very few in-jokes and references to past films, thus making an enjoyable time for non-fans, which I thought was a brilliant move on the filmmakers’ parts.

Usually, around the fifth installment, a film series has usually reached its nadir:  Saw V, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, Rocky V, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and Star Wars – Episode II: Attack of the Clones (yes, certain parts of that movie are absolutely worthless) are examples that easily come to mind.  Fast Five bucks this trend by being absolutely outstanding in almost every regard, and it’ll be remembered as the best of the Fast and Furious series.  And don’t leave when the credits start… there’s a scene with a cameo you won’t want to miss.

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Eddie Pasa

Eddie is a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) and the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS). Since starting in 2010 at The Rogers Revue, Eddie has written for Reel Film News (now defunct), co-founded DC Filmdom, and writes occasionally for Gunaxin. When not reviewing movies, he's spending time with his wife and children, repeat-viewing favorites on 4k or Blu-Ray, working for rebranding agency Mekanic, or playing acoustic shows and DJing across the DC/MD/VA area. Special thanks go to Jenn Carlson, Moira and Ari Pasa, Viki Nova at City Dock Digital in Annapolis, Mike Parsons, Philip Van Der Vossen, and Dean Rogers.

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