Fast Five Review

poster from the Universal Pictures film Fast Five

It was such slim pickings this week that I actually caved to my dad’s suggestion that we go see Fast Five. As you might guess from the title, Fast Five is the fifth in a series, but you probably wouldn’t guess that the other four films were called The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, and Fast and Furious (no ‘the’). Depending on how far in the toilet their careers were at the time of filming, each one stars various combinations of the original cast. But they all have similar plot lines:

Two guys who drive really fast cars use their skills at driving really fast cars to solve some sort of crime-related problem and impress girls.

In this incarnation, the two guys are the originals: Vin Diesel and Paul Walker (indicating that their careers are swirling around in the bowl once again) and the problem they have is that they’re on the run from the DEA and a drug lord in Rio is trying to kill them because of some job that they screwed up. This is largely irrelevant, though, because people only see these movies for two reasons: fast cars and scantily clad women. Good thing, too, because everything else about Fast Five is crap.

The movie starts off in a very A-Team fashion, with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) being sent to jail for some reason that probably has to do with the 4th movie, and his buddy and sister, Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) using their fast cars to bust him out of a bus on the way to prison in the most destructive, over-the-top manner possible. They then flee to Rio de Janeiro to hide out with their old buddy Vince (Matt Shulze), who I guess was in one of the other movies, while a team of DEA agents led by Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) assemble to stampede into Brazil like a replay of the Bay of Pigs to get these guys back.

Hobbs from from the Universal Pictures film Fast Five

I’m pretty sure those two chuckleheads not really dangerous
enough to warrant an armored personnel carrier.

The car-racing criminals agree to do a job where they have to steal cars off a train to earn some money. The cars are being conveniently transported with full tanks of gas (I guess the rail company doesn’t see having several hundred gallons of gasoline on a passenger train as dangerous) so this is all fun and games until Dominic decides that they’re not actually going to give the cars to the man they’re stealing them for, causing said man to (quite sanely) react with a violence that our thick headed heroes don’t understand. Don’t take it personally, guys, I’d try to kill you too, if only because you’re so stupid.

car driving out of train from the Universal Pictures film Fast Five

Whoopeee! My car now! There can’t possibly be any consequences!

There are so many violent, over-muscled thickos in this movie who all have the same personality (i.e. none) that it was easier for me to think of the leads as Pouty (Vin Diesel), Smarmy (Paul Walker) and Sweaty (Dwayne Johnson) because at least those names are descriptive. It’s not necessary for the girl to have a nickname, because she’s only there as a sex object, or to give nicknames to the members of the group of fellow criminals Pouty and Smarmy call up from the previous films to help them, because they’re not very important.

the team from the Universal Pictures film Fast Five

You may recognize this setup from every heist movie ever made.

So in a determined effort to simultaneously cash in on the popularity of terrible car racing movies and terrible heist movies, their little posse decides to get back at Reyes (Joachim de Almeida), the drug lord who pretty much controls all of Rio including the police, by stealing all his money using fast cars. This, according to Pouty and Smarmy, will make them free, because everyone knows there’s no faster way to stop a drug dealer from chasing you than to steal all his money and then rub it in his face. I agree with the guy who says their plan is “Mission In-Freakin Sanity,” but not that insane is less possible than impossible.

Reyes the bad guy from the Universal Pictures film Fast Five

You see, I am very attached to my money.

Ostensibly each member of the group (I won’t name them all, because they don’t matter, but I will mention the Asian guy’s name is Han Sol-Oh) has some particular skill to add to the group. In reality, however, they all just drive cars, except for one of them, who can also use a computer, and the girl, who can wear a bikini.

Mossad Gisele from from the Universal Pictures film Fast Five

She’s supposedly Mossad, but I’m pretty sure Israel’s elite special operations
unit does not teach their operatives to fire pistols sideways like dumbass gangsters.

Reyes and his goons and Hobbs and his invading army – which includes an obligatory woman (Elsa Pataky) from the Brazilian police to translate/be attractive – drop off the end of the Earth for most of the middle of the movie while the fast car driving crew dredge their few functioning brain cells for a workable plan on how to break into a police station and steal millions of dollars in cash from an enormous, impenetrable safe.

cars dragging a safe from the Universal Pictures film Fast Five

Their solution: rip off the plan from The Losers, but use cars instead of a helicopter.

The bad guys wait patiently for their turn during this period, speaking angrily to each other in subtitled Portuguese (I’m surprised the F & F crowd put up with that much reading) and occasionally dropping by to do some macho posturing.

Dominic and Hobbs face off from the Universal Pictures film Fast Five

Is it just me, or did they step over the fine line between quivering like they
want to punch each other and quivering like they want to kiss each other?

Why it takes them so long to practice their plan is beyond me, because like in all of the Fast movies, the laws of physics do not apply, especially not while they’re driving fast cars. They can get rear ended by a speeding bus and not go flying off the road. They can zoom off a speeding train in a sports car and not ruin the car when they land. They can leap out of a speeding car and fall 500 feet into a river without getting killed (they know they’re still falling at the same speed as the car, right? And at that speed the water would feel like cement?)

Brian and Dominic jump out of a car from the Universal Pictures film Fast Five

Apparently they are invincible when moving faster than 80 mph.

The ridiculous action stunts are the entire reason for the movie’s existence, because hardly any of plot makes any sense, the jokes are almost all lame and badly delivered, and their attempts at eliciting an emotional reaction from the audience (and from the blank-faced actors) are laughable.

Brian Mia and Dominic from the Universal Pictures film Fast Five

”You guys are my family,” he says, with all the inflection of a student reading aloud in school.

When the action is over, everything is exactly the same as it was in the beginning except that Rio is in ruins and our thick-headed fugitives have more girlfriends and money. This, is presumably in order to set up for the next movie, which will probably not have a six in it, because that would make too much sense. If you’re smart, though, you’ll avoid #6 just as surely as you’ll avoid #5, unless, of course, you’re obsessed with cars and girls, or you’re only going to humor someone who’s obsessed with cars and girls. There’s really no other reason to go.

The studios apparently recognize this, because they put up a little warning at the end to the effect of: “don’t try any of this in your 1993 Honda Civic with the purple lights underneath, idiot, you’ll just end up running over somebody’s grandmother.”

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