My first and most pressing question going into Fast Five was how bad would it be? Well seriously, it's God-awful, but it does exactly what it set out to do, succeed in action movie formula. It stays out of the annoying range for the most part and just gives us requisite testosterone-fueled smash-ups, shoot-outs, car chases, over-the-top action and, of course, muscular cars and muscular dudes. Don't get me wrong, this is still a terrible movie, but you can nevertheless happily sit back, toss logic out the window and cram popcorn down your gullet for two hours.
This is director Justin Lin's third Furious installment and he lays it on thick with little flair for anything but loud shit, complementing the onscreen flare-ups with super dramatic musical explosions. Lin is adept at keeping the action formula intact: three big chase scenes, one huge fight sequence and a little love interest to keep everyone who came to get their money's worth happy. The production is set in Rio de Janeiro, so of course we see that same ol' Jesus statue more times than necessary.
Fast Five starts out like a powder keg, dazzling us with special effects like any James Bond entry. Once again, the furious ones, Dominic (Vin Diesel) and his crew, find themselves on the wrong side of the law as they attempt a balancing act between a ruthless drug lord (Joaquim de Almeida) and a relentless federal agent (Dwayne "The Rock!" Johnson). They've ended up in Rio de Janeiro and must do one final job before they can "disappear forever." While the Fast series has always been about cars, it takes about an hour to get to any drag racing and then we are still totally ripped off by the actual race being off screen and alluded to later. Instead, we're treated to another street scene in Rio and where hot babes in stilettos and mini-skirts shake that "thang" at us.
The funniest part is that FF, with its heist sub plot, feels like it's trying hard to be tricky and intricate, but merely comes off like a poor man's Ocean's 11. Good heist movies like Ocean's 11 through 13 or The Hot Rock have ingenious twists and turns. FF sizzles, festers, stops, starts, sputters and clunks - you get the drift... and I'm not talking about Tokyo here. The plot is totally riddled with flaws, but in the end, who cares?
Furious is dropped from the title yet everyone seems to be simmering in their own juices and ready to pop. Walker is reduced to short one-liners and at one point repeats, "I owned it!" too many times. Diesel, yet again, mumbles his way through his caveman gurgle, but this time around he only wears one bad shirt. Thankfully, Brewster only has to act all doe-eyed and pregnant. Yes that's right, there is a family theme amidst all the burning rubber and shattered glass. Also along for the ride is Sung Kang as "The Chameleon" who is never referred to again by that name and shows no signs of said lizard's behavior. Gal Gadot as Gisele once again evens out the multi-ethnic assemblage.
The Rock's "watch-me-I'm-acting" style is so horrendous and camera-conscious that all I could see was him essentially projecting his own self image. Bullet-headed and more beefed up than usual, he is unbearably unbelievable. Which brings me to the ultimate question... which is worse: Diesel's mumbling or Rock's posturing? The two seemingly attempt to settle this score in a fist fight, but I won't tell you who wins.
The big pay off car-crunching chase scene is roughly a 20-minute sequence in which Walker and Diesel, in trademark muscle cars, drag an 8,000-pound bank vault safe through the narrow streets of Rio, swerving around sharp corners, the vault resembling a massive monstrous mace, trashing everything (especially cars) that gets in its way. All skid marks and fireballs, this ridiculously stupid detonating climax racks up more metal than a Transformers movie.
Perhaps because it's such a mockery of itself, FF comes off harmless in its vapidity like one big action movie channel cartoon. There are preposterous epilogues for each character, but stay tuned for the Iron Man-esque ending to set up lord knows how many guest-star-laden sequels.
Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker,
Jordana Brewster, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
Directed by Justin Lin