Thursday, May 23, 2013


Fast Five
Director:  Justin Lin
Starring:  Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Dwayne Johnson, Sung Kang, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Matt Schulze, Gal Gadot, Elsa Pataky, Joaquim de Almeida
Rated PG-13

Running ain’t freedom.  You should know that
                        ~Dominic Toretto

It took 5 tries, but the Fast & Furious franchise put out a great movie!  And a super awesome one at that!  Ditching the forced racing aspects in favor of a pure action movie with the guise of a heist plot, the series is able to fully breathe and become a summer popcorn thrill ride that allows you to enjoy and not care too much about detailed semantics of its plot.  The film boasts an ultimate team up of who’s who from the entire series, giving those who’ve been paying attention some rewarding character moments while at the same time not reminding the viewer of the shortcomings of those previous films.  The cast gels and carries this thing along quite nicely.

This film also brings in action powerhouse The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) to the mix.  At the start of the century, both he and Diesel were to be the heir apparent to the action throne-the new Stallone and Schwarzenegger.  It started out fine for them, but both started moving away from the action scene around 2004 and making more Hulk Hogan choices than top tier action ones..  It was actually Jason Stathom who stuck to it and is still going as we speak.  But the 2 finally come head to head in this film and not only do we get a great buildup to an awesome fight between them, but we get to see them work together as well.  We waited decades for Stallone and Schwarzenegger to come together, these two did it earlier, while they’re still not past their prime and inarguably in a better movie.  The Rock knows it’s not his franchise and doesn’t even try to take it.  He is a bit over the top, but no more so than the rest of the cast.

What’s most impressive here is all the stunt work.  There may be CG all over this film, but I can’t tell.  From what I’ve researched, they tried their best for practical and model work.  Everything is high octane, dangerous and wow’ing.  Yes, over the top, but when it all looks so damn real, I’ll lay down good money to watch it.  There’s an incredible sequence toward the beginning when trying to rob a train of some cars.  I almost wanted to rewind and watch again.  And the end result is Toretto and O’Conner going off a cliff.  It resulted in an audible “Holy shit!” from me.  That’s telling of how addicting and contagious this movie’s vibe is.  In a silly movie I may have been saying “What? Noooo! C’mon!”  But, this is a testament to the work this movie has put in.  I had been sunk in and was drinking their Kool-Aid by the gallon.

The rest of the action spreads it out as well.  There are foot chases, shootouts, chases and a lot of stuff blowing up and crashing.  It’s a symphony of stunt work.  As violent as this movie gets, the blood is very little.  It could have been tempting to go for an R here, but I’m kinda glad they kept to series form.  No forced street races in here, either.  They do however joke with it.  There’s a scene where we’re threatened with a pointless street race, only to cut right to the result.  It was “Haha, gotcha!” moment.

Getting away from the street races was the best move for this franchise.  I can be down with this series as a less smart, more action driven Ocean’s Eleven series.  Heck, it’s great that maybe now we have a pure action series to rely on with actors that aren’t over 60.  Starting with Tokyo Drift, you can see Justin Lin taking this franchise and moving it into a better more accessible franchise.  And I thank him for it.  I’m totally PUMPED for the 6th one.  This one left with a nice HOLY CRAP moment cliffhanger in the middle of the credits.  Not only do you get an unexpected character return, you get the promise of an even bigger character return in the next movie.

There’s a lot of excitement and fun in Fast Five.  This is pure summer popcorn action in its finest form.  This film has made the awfully difficult climb to it rewarding and fun.  Consider me interested in further entries in this franchise.  It’s almost like its been reborn with its fifth film.  I can’t tell you another franchise in which the fifth film is clearly the best, but we have one now.  Give me the stuntwork, the explosions, more Diesel.  Bring on Fast & Furious 6.  I’m excited!

Next Up:  Ranking Fast & Furious

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