Fast Five - Online Review

'gone, almost completely, is the pre-occupation with racing for racings sake, in its place a developed narrative where driving cars quickly is part of the plot, rather than the plot in its entirety'

The dire, stodgy, Fast & Furious should have been a lesson to Universal, the curators of the Fast franchise, that their property was slowly becoming stifled. Liked a clogged artery, there was good stuff in there still but it was being blocked at source, stifled out by the elements of the series that have never worked. It's genuinely surprising to report that, for once, a major studio seems to have listened to the concerns its audiences were raising.

Fast Five emerges from the mess of the fourth film a very different beast. Gone, almost completely, is the pre-occupation with racing for racings sake, in its place a developed narrative where driving cars quickly is part of the plot, rather than the plot in its entirety. A small sidestep back towards the drag racing crews of the first and second films shows how far this franchise has come to get to this point; we used to have two hours or ogling scantily clad women leaning over effusively decaled cars. We've now got less than ten minutes of it.

The plot instead is much more in-tune with some sort of heist film. Think Ocean's Eleven with sexier vehicles and you're pretty much there. There's even Fast's version of Andy Garcia's kingpin, this time played by Joaquim de Almeida, always a welcome presence as a non-country-specific South American hoodlum. The returning gang of co-stars, from Ludacris to Gal Gadot, lend the piece some nostalgia too, with Jordana Brewster's character in particular giving everything the heart the franchise has lacked for quite a while.

The casting of Dwayne Johnson, as head of a gang of agents a bit too fond of wearing obscenely tight fitting t-shirts, is a genius move and the inevitable battle between him and Vin Diesel shows why Stallone, Arnie, et al., were so keen to do The Expendables 2; they know that we just don't need them any more. Diesel and Johnson mowing each other through walls more than fill their size 18 shoes.

There are problems still, sure. The finale isn't earned, for a start; Diesel and co-star Paul Walker don't do enough to get you to forgive them for what looks like a lot of violence against a lot of people. But, that said, anything involving the vault at the end is well choreographed into a great action sequence by director Justin Lin. The post-credit scene too could have been done away with, or at least stripped down. One further cameoing return is fine. Two is pushing it.

Fast Five is currently available via Sky Anytime, Sky Anytime+ and Sky Go, for users with appropriate subscriptions.

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  1. What sticks in my mind most about this film is the ending action scene and how, even by Hollywood logic, it throws common sense out the window. One character in particular doesn't just lose his marbles, he steps on them and crushes them with his third act 'turn'.

    They steal $100 million form a drug baron with the intention of keeping it for yourselves. They probably cause the equivalent amount of damage by wrecking downtown Rio and we're suppose to cheer them on?

    I like the film but it's gone from a somewhat realistic/interesting angle (cars/gangs) to a big scale wish fulfilment franchise that pushes the limits of believability.

    1. Don't disagree with any of that but I would rather watch this sort of unashamed action film than the cars/gangs angle, which just never satisfied me on a plot level: at least this attempted something fairly big in terms of where it tried to take the Diesel/Walker gang. Agree with the finale though as I say above; they don't do enough to make you forgive them for all the bad stuff they get away with.

  2. "Fast Five" is the best Fast & Furious out of the entire franchise... but that really isn't saying much. Honestly, you're gonna hafta sit through one of the cheesiest screenplays, mediocre acting (I'm looking at you Paul Walker), and terrible pacing to get to the meat of the movie: action.