Fails Furiously

Get your motor running for this summer’s fast drivin’ blockbuster...again.

Fast Five
Directed by Jusin Lin
Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson and Jordana Brewster
2 ½ out of 5 Stars

Strap in summer moviegoers, Vin Diesel and company are back in the fifth installment of the Fast and the Furious franchise. Do they drive fast cars with reckless abandonment? Do they commit crimes worth millions of dollars in property damage? Will things explode? Answer: goddamn right they will!

Fast Five reintroduces much of the original cast, with additions from middle franchise cast members such as Tyrese Gibson and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, while subtracting a few others, most notably and thankfully, Michelle Rodriguez. Helming the endeavor is Justin Lin, who also directed F&F 3 and 4. The biggest change in production comes from the addition of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the justice hungry DEA agent, Lukas Hobbs.

As the film begins we find our heroes running scared on the mean streets of Rio de Janeiro. Pressed into pulling what should have been an “easy job,” they quickly become embroiled in the affairs of a Brazilian drug lord and must fight and “drive” their way to freedom. If that sounded labored or in any way exhausting, imagine what actually watching this movie might do to you. But before we remove the restrictor plate and fire up the nitro, let’s get a few things in line.

Even the most laissez faire evaluation of this film leads one to question if writer Chris Morgan didn’t have higher hopes for the lucidity of the final script. The plot takes so many bizarre turns that one can’t help but feel a little jilted for being asked to buckle up. Without ruining much of the convoluted mess that is the storyline, if you’re going to call in a group of international criminals, each possessing a particular skill, maybe you should take advantage of those skills rather than have them stand around in a warehouse making jackass comments to one another. How anything was actually accomplished is something of a mystery.

Overall, the performances were fairly poor, the biggest culprit being The Rock. Though entertaining to watch, Johnson’s stiff approach to the dialogue didn’t serve the overall tongue-in-cheek feel of the movie. If there was any levity to the production, he clearly was not in on it. Also distracting was Johnson’s choice to grow a goatee for the film. The only reasonable explanation seems to be that the film’s producers were concerned that Johnson would look too much like Diesel during the fight scenes, thus confusing the audience. If the “evil” Spock wasn’t referenced in the credits, he should be. 

Despite all its flaws, Fast Five might be exactly the film you’re looking for this summer. If your idea of a Sunday afternoon is kicking back to the calming drone of explosions and squealing tires, you’ll be in good company in the passenger seat of this mindless behemoth. Bring a mouth guard.



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