“Fast Five” starts out as yet another “Fast” film, and quickly turns into “Ocean’s 14: Gearheads” before turning into “Vice City: Rio de Janeiro.” Along the way, it’s an eye-popping spectacle of shootouts and high speed chases so exhilarating that the moments of brutal dialogue almost come as a welcome respite for your brain.
You’ve probably seen by now the interview the Onion News Network did with 5-year-old screenwriter "Chris Morgan," in which the lovable towhead gleefully expresses his love of fast cars and explosions. All kidding aside, fast cars and explosions, when done properly on the big screen are a blast, and director Justin Lin was at the top of his game shooting “Fast Five.”
During the film’s first heist, when Dominic Teretto (Vin Diesel), his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) help some shady characters steal three cars from a freight train, Lin makes clear that you must set aside everything you know about physics. Pulling a GT40 sideways out of a train, onto the flatbed of a speeding buggy and racing off across the dessert? No problem. Drive off a 100-foot+cliff and hop out the top of the convertible to the safety of the water below? Sure. Pull a safe out of a wall using to Dodge Chargers? Done.
Lin’s direction through it all is crisp, clear and fast-paced, though during the film’s calmer moments it’s unclear whether he’s feeling lazy or making a joke—honestly, how many more shots of Christ the Redeemer do we need in each move set in Rio?
Franchise regulars Walker, Diesel and Brewster remain as talented and charming as ever—take that as you will, but the film does receive a bit of a lift from the crew assembled for your classic “one last job.” Ludacris proves once again that he can handle more than most directors are willing to throw at him, while Tego Calderon and Don Omar do a nice job as the Casey Affleck-Scott Caan bickering duo of the crew.
“Fast Five” also finally lays to rest the age-old question, Who would win in a fight, The Tooth Fairy or The Pacifier? Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is on the scene as Hobbs, the FBI’s top manhunter, who’s been sent to Rio to bring Dom home. Watching them stand nose-to-nose, panting with rage, you can’t help but wish they’d just give into their carnal urges, but alas, this isn’t that film.
Say what you will about the film--too long, terrible acting, a cynically squishy sense of morality and justice, an unnecessary epilogue--but for a good 70 or minutes (out of 120), Justin Lin takes you hurtling through the streets and favelas of Rio at a breakneck pace, leaving in his wake an impressive pile of wrecked cars and dead bodies.
And if by the end of the film you’re at all inclined to see “Fast Six” or whatever they end up calling it, stick around for the credits, during which you’ll be treated to a Marvel-esque tease of what’s (possibly) to come.
"Fast Five" is also playing at select IMAX theaters