Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Movie Review: "Fast Five" (2011)

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Movie"Fast Five"
Director: Justin Lin
Year: 2011
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

After Brian (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) break Dominic (Vin Diesel) out of prison, the group hides out in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. When their old friend Vince (Matt Schulze) offers them a quick job to steal a few cars from a train, Brian agrees to take it knowing they are running low on funds. The job goes bad when the crew is double-crossed by the crime lord who owns the cars named Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida). Tired of running, Dominic devises a plan to get out of crime for good by doing one last job and stealing all of Reyes' money. All the while, the group is being pursued for their crimes by Diplomatic Security Special Agent Hobbs (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson).

"Fast Five" is a great turning point in the series for the better and the moment when things about this franchise begins to change. In the past, "The Fast and the Furious" films were struggling to find their voice and they didn't quite know what to do with themselves. Films 1-3 were more focused on the street racing element and movie #4 was trying to be taken seriously as a dramatic thriller with added car chases, so, what is it all? Do they always want to be taken seriously? Were they only about the cars and the racing? Do they want to just have fun? This is where the series begins to discover what it really is and what it does best. There is no going undercover in this film and people aren't trying to infiltrate cartels or crime syndicates. At its core, "Fast Five" is a simple heist movie, and that aspect really works for this evolving franchise. Dominic and Brian get the whole gang back together to steal $100 million dollars in Rio from the man who double-crossed them. This allows it to have an element of tension and dubiousness to it, as well as the typical amount of smokin' hot cars and the same sense of togetherness the franchise has always strived to display. The script actually has a clear direction this time around and can be compared to films like the remake of "The Italian Job," which we also really like. Like in most heist films, the plan is overly complicated and over-the-top, but man, it sure is fun when it wants to be! When you watch this movie, it looks like the cast had fun making it, something that wasn't always apparent in movies 1-4. As we mentioned, this is certainly the high mark for the series as it is the most entertaining of them all thus far. The final 20 minute chase scene, which includes both cars, tanks and a gigantic safe, is quite an amazing site to behold, however unrealistic it might seem, as the gang destroys dozens and dozens of cars in an effort to be the most destructive series in film history.

The fact of the matter is these movies have always had elements of outrageous and unbelievable to them, but this particular movie makes no apologies for its over-the-topness, and it shouldn't have to. Movies that are Marvel or DC comic book adaptations never have to apologize for their superhero extravagance and other popular action movies don't ever get questioned for their lack of integrity, so why is "The Fast and the Furious" franchise any different? In fact, it's not, and we're glad they feel comfortable going bigger and badder than they ever have gone before. Fans love the outlandish chase scenes interwoven with the newfound heist storyline, and this is the first flick of the series to actually do this both successfully and in a kick ass manner. The addition of ever charming newcomer Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as DSS agent Hobbs was the best decision filmmakers could have made, and it wasn't always going to be that way as Tommy Lee Jones was originally cast in his place. We certainly don't think Jones would have been a good addition to this franchise, so why else was Johnson the best decision ever? Because there is nothing more badass/sexy than two hulked-up roid monsters with sweaty bald heads fighting against each other with sheer strength and carnal, glistening, primitive muscle, THAT'S why. The fight scenes between Vin Diesel and The Rock are so fun and wonderful we wish the entire movie was just them fighting. In addition, "Fast Five" boasts the much needed return of Ludacris, Tyrese, Sung Kang and Matt Schulze, which allows the franchise to focus more intently on the 'family' element, something heavily seen in the last 2 films. Very few series get better as time goes on, and while this is not a perfect movie, we'll be damned if it ain't entertaining.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 77%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
For our review of "The Fast and the Furious," click here.

For our review of "2 Fast 2 Furious," click here.

For our review of "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift," click here.

For our review of "Fast & Furious," click here.

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