“Fast Five” burns rubber onto movie screens this April

By Ransom Cozzillio
May 6, 2011

The gang’s all back, and still living life “one quarter mile at a time.” I’m talking of course about Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and the rest of the car-stealing, fast driving anti-heroes that star in the newly released (April 29th) Fast Five movie now playing in regular theaters and Imax.

For those who are fans of the previous Fast and Furious movies, or anyone who is merely a fan of intense action, serious speed and vehicular mayhem, Fast Five doesn’t disappoint in the least.

For any out there unfamiliar with the series and questioning whether they should attend, there are only a few things one needs to know about Fast Five: There are fast cars, attractive models, intense chase scenes, improbable and physic-defiant action, poor but overlookable acting, and more fast cars.

These are the things that Fast Five and the entire “Fast” franchise hang their hat on, and have since the outset in 2001. The franchise reloaded and outdid itself last summer with Fast & Furious and it appears they have topped themselves again this year with Fast Five.

Director Justin Lin’s newest addition to the hard driving series essentially takes every past element and sufficiently ups the ante. From death-defying train robberies, to the casting of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson opposite of the aforementioned Vin Diesel (more on that later), to essentially leveling most of Rio de Janeiro, this movie does everything bigger, to magnificent effect.

In fact, so far, Fast Five is turning out to be the most successful “Fast” movie yet, grossing $86.2 million during opening weekend, the highest total of any “Fast and Furious” movie and the highest total ever for a movie released in the month of April. Clearly this Fast Five picks up where the others left off and then some.

The movie opens with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) being transported to jail after his arrest for numerous vehicular crimes at the end of Fast & Furious. The prison transport bus is ambushed however, by ex-FBI agent Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) and Dominic is freed. Before splitting up to avoid the authorities, the three agree to meet up in Brazil to discuss their future.

O’Connor and Mia Toretto arrive in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil before Dominic and agree to take a job stealing impounded sports cars from a transport train for money in the meantime. Dominic meets them during the robbery which goes awry after the cars are discovered to be DEA property confiscated from one of the most powerful drug lords and corrupt businessmen in Brazil, Hernan Reyes. Mia makes off with the most important of the cars (it carries a computer chip detailing the location of Reyes’ safe houses) while Dominic and Brian are captured after death-defying high speed escape from the train.

After the botched heist of DEA property, the FBI sends top agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) to apprehend Dominic and Brian who now find themselves on the wrong side of Rio’s most dangerous drug lord.

While constantly eluding Hobbs, Dominic and Brian decide to make revenge on Reyes their last job, planning to steal some $100 million they can locate with the GPS from the car they stole. In order to do this however, they need a bigger team, and cast members from the first four Fast and Furious movies are called in to help with this elaborate theft. With the aid of Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej Parker (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) and many other returning characters, set about to planning one of the most elaborate robberies this side of Ocean’s Eleven all while continuing to avoid Hobbs and his heavily armed FBI task force.

The movie bogs down through this prolonged “planning phase” only to come roaring back for the crescendo kicked off by a Dwayne Johnson vs. Vin Diesel brawl and evolving into a 20+ minute finale that includes at least two gun fights, hundreds of wrecked police cars, a large portion of Rio being devastated by a giant vault dragged behind two Dodge Chargers and someone finally uncorking some classic Fast And Furious style NOS.

While Fast Five is the most critically acclaimed iteration of the franchise, receiving a 79% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 3 out of 4 stars from Roger Ebert, some critics have complained that for all its muscle and action, it skimps out on things like realism, a plot and A-List acting credentials. What Fast Five lacks in tact, it makes up with heart and throttle.

Just as one wouldn’t buy a Camero expecting the well-appointed interior of a Mercedes, one shouldn’t go to Fast Five expecting a preview of next year’s Emmy nominees. What you should expect is a pulse-pounding action blockbuster from start to finish, and for that, Fast Five delievers.





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Ransom Cozzillio

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