It’s hard to believe that 2001’s The Fast and the Furious is now ten years old. It’s even more difficult to understand how that movie sparked a franchise. It’s almost impossible to comprehend how that franchise reached its fifth installment. Was anyone asking for even one sequel, let alone four? I suppose it’s a moot question because here we are with the alliteratively titled Fast Five, which for all intents and purposes is no better or worse than the rest of the franchise. Take that as you will.
There’s some type of story here that has something to do with a corrupt businessman who has the whole Rio de Janeiro police force in his back pocket and stores his riches in a high security vault inside the police station. And of course, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) are going to rob him. It’s a loose premise that is negligible at best, but if you’re going to see Fast Five for the story, boy are you going to be disappointed.
Like previous incarnations, Fast Five is poorly written and it fails to tie its scenes together. It spends its whole middle section with the characters preparing and concocting an elaborate plan to break into the safe, but then that plan changes almost entirely. The final action scene, as thrilling as it is, only goes to show the pointlessness of everything that came before. It’s like the writers wrote the closing sequence first and then couldn’t come up with a way to get the characters to that point.
What the writers didn’t seem to understand, however, is that it doesn’t matter. Fast Five is a turn-off-your-brain action flick whose viewers demand very little (that this shoddy story has now gone on for five movies is telling of that fact). They want explosions, fast cars and gunfights. Unfortunately, the film spends far too much time talking and foolishly skips over would-be action scenes, like when Dominic agrees to go car for car in a race. After a dialogue exchange, it cuts back to the hideout where it’s evident he won. I imagine this was done to lower the runtime of the film, but at an already exhausting 2 hours and 10 minutes, what’s another few ticks of the clock?
Boredom may set in at certain points in Fast Five, but when the film moves, it moves fast (natch). The action scenes become cases of “enough is not enough.” Take the opening, for instance, which sees our boys robbing a moving train. As they take their loot, there’s a double cross which breeds a fist fight that causes a string of events that plants a car in the side of the train. Naturally, the car begins to leak gas, which causes an explosion and then…well, I suppose I’ll let you experience the rest for yourself. With ample supplies of machismo and crazy action scenes like that one, there’s enough testosterone in this movie to make a eunuch grow a pair.
Fast Five tries so hard to be exciting even its subtitles zoom on and off the screen with a sense of urgency. It’s admirable in a way, but it’s also perplexing because you begin to wonder where things went wrong. The pairing up of Vin Diesel and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (playing an FBI special agent) should have been an epic showdown, a battle of fisticuffs as brutal and bloody as any put to screen, but instead it’s merely adequate, an adjective that more or less describes the entire film.
Fast Five has all the pieces to make a great action movie, but forces them into spots they don’t belong. While I am recommending it because, yes, I did have some fun with it, it’s nothing more than another derivative rehash. At this point, the most interesting thing about the franchise is what stupid title they’re going to attach to each film.
Fast Five receives 3/5