I can’t believe I am actually saying this, but I really enjoyed Fast Five. In fact, I would probably say that it was the most fun I have had watching a movie in a long time. Have I lost all credibility? Perhaps I should preface this declaration by admitting that I saw this film in a Berlin cineplex. It was dubbed in German. I don’t speak German with the exception of being able to read a menu well enough to not order any strange dishes made out of intestines or brains (hey, I have my priorities). Also, my husband and I were the only two people in the movie theater and I may or may not have had a beer buzz going into it (in my defense, beer is literally cheaper than water there and I was thirsty!). I don’t know. It may have been a combination of any of these factors that led to my enjoyment of the latest Vin Diesel film, or it may have just been a darn fun movie. Either way, I am going into this review with fond memories fluttering around my head.
Fast Five is the latest in The Fast and the Furious franchise. Yeah, I was just as surprised as you are that there were four others. I could only name the first one (which I saw) and Tokyo Drift (which I didn’t). Let’s be clear– you won’t be lost watching Fast Five if you haven’t seen Fast one through four. All you need to know is that there are some guys who use speedy cars for some reason or another—usually reasons that aren’t entirely legal. Vin Diesel reprises his role as Dom, a street racer who recently escaped prison. Dom hightails it to Rio de Janeiro where he meets up with his sister (Jordana Brewster) and Brian (Paul Walker). Things are peachy for about two minutes until they decide to take an “easy” job to make some mad cash. As to be expected, complications arose and the three decide to rob the crap out of the druglord who set them up. Since it was in German and I don’t understand the language, I can only assume they used the line: “We’re getting the gang back together,” because soon their old pals were zipping into Brazil—this time for one last score. Unfortunately for Vin and Co., Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson (played by Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson) is hot on their trail.
I think one of the problems I most often run into when I watch movies is that they seem to fall short of what they promise. Fast Five, however, delivers exactly what the summer blockbuster should: fun chase scenes, silly quips (or so I assume), explosions, an elaborate heist, exotic locations, and two action heroes at odds with each other. Sure, I admit that the plot is extremely predictable. Heck, I was able to accurately follow and even guess what was about to happen (it’s not rocket science, after all). But I kind of like that. In this case, it was reassuring—like being wrapped in a cozy snuggie on a winter’s eve.
For me, watching a movie in a foreign language with the absence of subtitles really makes the acting stand out more than it normally would. I had to depend on the facial expressions of and interactions between the stars onscreen. Maybe it was the beer talking, but I found the cast to be really fun. Yeah, there are a bunch of cliches, but no one expects Fast Five to change the world.
I was so happy to see Vin Diesel back on screen (and not as the Pacifier). I loved that the film pitted Diesel against Johnson. Who wouldn’t want to see these two well-muscled action stars duke it out? And although I liked the rivalry, I was a bit disappointed in the fight scene between the two. It was shot in a confusing manner, which actually didn’t showcase the battle as I would have liked. It was kind of a shame. Plus, without giving away the outcome, I find it hard to believe the man who won would have actually been the victor had the two stars really fought. Tsk, tsk.
Also, many of the chase scenes—both in cars or on foot—were fun to watch. Most notably, the last chase scene was crazy. Really crazy. Sure, they destroyed much of downtown Rio de Janeiro and probably killed innocent citizens, but it looked awesome. Early in the film, there is another chase on foot through the poor area of the city which provided a nice contrast to the opulence of downtown. Again, the team basically destroys everything they come into contact with, but I am prone to think it is commendable to show both parts of the city. Dude, I know. I am putting too much thought into a car film.
Oh wait—did I mention exploding toilets? Yeah, there is an exploding toilet scene that makes the one in Goonies look like a scene from My Little Pony. I didn’t know I could feel that level of revulsion combined with that much laughter and shock. Hell, I still giggle a little bit when I think about it—I’m immature. Poop is funny.
If I were to pick apart the plot, as I am apt to do, I would question the “gang’s” plan to rob the drug lord. Now, I am totally fine with the fact that they want to put the screws to this jackoff, but their heist seems fairly excessive. It seems like they spent more money planning the robbery (what, with buying several sports cars, state of the art surveillance equipment, a crazy expensive safe, and renting a giant warehouse and all) than they would make from the payoff. I think they could have benefited with an accountant on their crew. I can just picture this character: driving a Prius, wearing glasses they constantly push up their nose, pockets adequately protected, and with an Urkel voice (yes, they most likely did do that).
The feminist part of me takes issue with the objectification of women in the film. I know, I previously said I didn’t expect Fast Five to change the world, but would it kill them to write a decent part for at least one woman? In the film, women are treated with slightly more respect than the cars, which was pretty annoying. Now, I’m not saying I wanted to see Susan B. Anthony drag racing Emma Goldman while Betty Friedan punches a cop (although how flipping cool would that be?), but it would be nice to see a woman not be ogled onscreen or treated like a possession.
While Fast Five is by no means a ground-breaking movie, it is a great popcorn flick. It delivers on action while not taking itself too seriously. As I left the theater, I was reminded of those cheesy action films I saw as a child—how even the most absurd plots seemed plausible, how action stars were more than just a guy with a gun (they were a guy with a gun AND a smart ass comment when he shoots someone), and when movies were under two hours. How lovely. Fast Five is worth checking out. It’s like the cars they feature in the film—over the top, fast as hell, and fun to take on a test drive every now and then.
Have a phenomenal day!
Score: A- (don’t judge me!)
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