Movie Review: Fast Five

Fast Five
Directed by Justin Lin
Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster. Tyrese Gibson, Chris “˜Ludacris’ Bridges, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot and Joaquim de Almeida
Release Date: April 29, 2011

WARNING: All that occurs in Fast Five is beyond belief and is a blurred, falsified vision of a supposed “reality.” Any time a giant vault is pulled by two cars across the busy streets of Rio de Janeiro and no bystanders are scathed, we realize this can’t be reality. But with a movie this fun, who really cares? Gentle, respectful, and cautious are not the most popular words used to describe director Justin Lin‘s latest, and most victorious, foray into the world governed by the fast and the furious (he directed the impoverished Fast & Furious and Tokyo Drift). These unpopular word choices do not suddenly appear by way of Lin’s fastidious and keen craftsmanship. No eye on this film’s staff is capable of discerning the slightest form of subtlety, though we are encouraged to indulge in that incessant upsurge that is popular entertainment (gorgeous women, cars, exotic locals, explosions, muscled men, and more gorgeous women). This all means only on thing: summer movie season has begun.

The proportions in which we are served this kind of entertainment in Fast Five are vast and at times overwhelming. Those who will see the film will be unable to dismiss such abundant offerings and will find themselves involuntarily requesting more and more because of the way Lin and screenwriter Chris Morgan completely devote themselves in making the impossible and the unnecessary pleasant to watch, at times even beguiling.

Of all the superhero films and other adventure sagas slated for release this summer, Lin’s human drama (you read correctly, Fast Five is a human drama) may be the season’s most extraordinarily explicit and scientifically defying film. The characters all have superhuman speed, strength, agility, beauty, and some leeway from the gods who allow them to cheat death multiple times. But amidst this excessive superhuman, heroic hoopla, the movie has a significant interest in its characters’ emotion, illuminating whenever there’s a break from the action their inner demons, fears, and passions. Yes, even Vin Diesel, Dwayne “˜The Rock’ Johnson, and Paul Walker reveal that behind ego, charisma, and muscle lingers past regrets that continue to affect them.

Plot is mediocre and straight to the point: Dom (Diesel) is fresh from fleeing prison. He hooks back up with his partner in crime and former police man Brian (Paul Walker), who is taking care of his girlfriend Mia (Jordana Brewster). The three are living dangerously in the exotic city of Rio where there happens to be a ruthless businessman, Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), sucking dry all the city’s inhabitants. He has a loyal following and many illegal businesses raking in a lot of money. When Dom finds out he can nab Reyes and all his businesses he doesn’t hesitate to call in his fast and furious friends (Tyrese Gibson, Chris “˜Ludacris’ Bridges, Sung Kang, and Gal Gadot). But on their tale is Hobbs (Johnson), part of an ultra-elite task force that answers to nobody. Fans of previous films in The Fast and the Furious series will be made satisfied as all previous stories get bound together quite nicely.

Of all the glitz we witness here the most potent aspect of the film is the pairing of Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson. The plot inevitably becomes irrelevant as we behold two men with gigantic presences. Only a few have this aura around them (John Wayne and Arnold Schwarzenegger come to mind immediately) that when they come on screen they command it and we as an audience know everything is going to be all right. Diesel (like Johnny Depp did with Jack Sparrow) has created a character in Dom, out of nothing, and made him the embodiment of contemporary cool. Dom doesn’t speak often, dims his eyes when he does, evoking Clint Eastwood’s the Man with no name who never falters when threatened. Diesel’s presence is enormous and is only countered by Dwayne Johnson’s charismatic and overwhelming presence. The two on screen together make Fast Five well worth the price of admission. It is not often we get to see men of enormous presence grace the screen.

Lin, doing his best to seize the opportunity of directing Diesel and Johnson, crafts an unconscionable film that lacks coherence and plausibility. Let’s face it, this movie doesn’t have to nor does it want to pander to unbelievers of the action genre. Not for one moment does the film cease to impress with its considerable respect for crafting well thought out chase sequences that are innovative. No repetition is occurring here. Our astonishment reaches new heights time and again with each new film that comes along in this long-running and improving series.

Rating: ***1/2 out of *****

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