Wayback Review: “Fast Five”

Today I share the very first movie review I wrote after moving here to B’more.  Originally published in April, 2011, I bring you: Fast Five!

I’ve prided myself on the fact that I’ve never seen a single movie in the Fast and Furious franchise.  Figured I could sniff out a load of “hours of my life I’ll never get back” a mile away.  But if the other films in the series that preceded Fast Five have stunts and special effects anywhere near as breathtakingly amazing, perhaps I’ve been a bit too presumptuous.

The plot is relatively simple to follow; the gang steal cars.  A plan goes awry.  The big boss of the gang (that’d be Vin Diesel, folks) decides that the best offense is a huge bitchslap of payback.  If you’ve seen the prior films, the storyline does follow along nicely.  Well, it follows the storyline of all the movies except The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.  Things can get a bit sketchy for newcomers to the series — the first 20 minutes or so had me trying to figure out what was going on and why I should care — but the spot-on timing of the stunt driving as well as the bass-bangin’ soundtrack soon had me doing a mental fist-pump as these outlaws tried their best to get to a quieter life.

Vin Diesel plays Dominic “Dom” Toretto, the head honcho of the team and the reason most of the folks were at the screening I attended.  Since he hasn’t been in parts 2 and 3, it looks like Universal is trying their best to refresh the series.  Well, they’ve succeeded.  Do you like fast cars, bad mofo’s, things that go boom and the occasional hot chick in a micro-mini?  Well, look no further.  There’s some definite eye candy here for the gents; Jordana Brewster returns as Dom’s sister Mia, as does Gal Gadot as the too-cool-for-you driver Gisele.  The ladies in the audience also get a treat with Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner, Tyrese Gibson as Roman, Sung Kang as Han and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Hobbs, the Fed that is tasked with taking Our Gang down.

Let’s be honest here; you don’t come to one of these movies for the character development.  You come for the driving.  Crazy cool driving.  Outrageously amazing driving.  Driving so jaw-dropping even that crazy neighbor kid that YouTube’d his flight off his roof wouldn’t attempt the weakest stunt they’re throwing down.  But Fast Five does manage to move the story of these characters forward a little, in-between those driving scenes.  Pretty soon I wanted to make sure Mia was okay, and began to pick a favorite between the constantly bickering Roman and Chris Bridges’ Tej (Luda!)  Speaking of Ludacris, he lends his vocal talent to this picture too, which brings a little Stateside flavor in with the amazing Latin tunes on the soundtrack.  The mix of high-octane cars and music blends perfectly.

Fast Five takes the basic plot of Oceans Eleven and throws in a whole bunch of precision driving into the mix, making this catnip for anyone who…well, who’s ever owned a car.  Like you’ve never wanted to blow past everyone on the highway?  Take that, and multiply it by infinity.  That’s the high-octane on screen.  In fact, the climax of the movie involves two cars, a huge convoy of police, and a ten-ton bank vault.  In fact, the stunt driving was so incredible that MTV News already asked a physicist about it (WARNING SPOILER ALERT: click the link only if you’ve already seen this movie, or don’t mind knowing about this scene.  Or come back later.  I’ll wait.)  Although the real science is fascinating, when it comes right down to it, who cares?  Cool cars, cool characters and smokin’ hot stunt work make Fast Five an amazing moviegoing experience.

 

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