Fast Five – Review

When a series gets to a 5th sequel, you would be justified in thinking you know what you’re going to get.  For the most part, that’s true with Fast Five, the latest in the Fast & Furious franchise.  With the addition of Dwayne Johnson and a slight tweak to the genre, Fast Five manages to become that rarest of movies–a late sequel that’s the best in the franchise.

Moving the action to Rio, our lead characters ( returning regulars Vin Diesel, Jordanna Brewster, and Paul Walker) are now fugitives following the events of Fast and Furious 4.  This fifth movie is really the most involved with the series’ continuity.  It brings back characters from each of the previous films, and refers to earlier plot points.  It’s not nearly so complicated that a new viewer will be lost, but a fan of the series will certainly get a little extra thrill out of all the references.

Why is this movie the best though?  Hasn’t the idea worn out its welcome?  Well, maybe, but the idea has changed.  The genre tweak I mentioned earlier is this–instead of being about street racing, this movie is definitely a heist/crime caper.  Think Oceans Eleven, with brawn instead of brains.  Each character has a specialty and they plan the crime out well ahead of time, all while staying away from Dwayne Johnson’s hardcore cop pursuing them.

The action in this movie is fantastic.  I’m sure there’s some CGI (seems like you can’t make a movie without it), but most of what’s on the screen here is real car crashes and stunts and chases.  It looks great, and it’s tons of fun.  My heart rate really did pick up during at least two of the scenes, maybe more.  And action is also much more diverse than just racing.  In fact, the racing scene is the shortest one.  There’s a train robbery, a footrace through Rio’s slums, a fistfight between the Rock and Vin Diesel, an escape chase, and a few more little action sequences.  In between all the action is quite a bit of character development.  Personally, I LIKE these characters and enjoyed the downtime nearly as much as the action.

I would guess that no matter how I praise this, it won’t win new fans.  Yet the box office proves otherwise, with this being the biggest one yet.  Maybe people are coming around lately and realizing how fun this movie is.  Give it a chance.  Summer movies can be (and have been–repeatedly) a lot worse than this.

Ryan S. Davis

I love board games, thrill rides and travel. I'm happy to watch and review all kinds of movies, from mainstream blockbusters to art house indies. As a Warner Bros. employee, I'm privileged with a glimpse of Hollywood many don't see, but my opinions here are my own and not representative of the company.

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