Film Review – Fast 5

Fast 5 (M)

Directed by: Justin Lin

Starring: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris

One and a half stars

Review by Julian Wright

I am not even going to bother with the car puns like “top gear”, “rusty script needs oiling” or “pedal to the metal action scenes.” It is far too predictable and would detract from my main point that this is just a dreadful film. Any fifth film in a series is doomed, the formula has been done to death. And after Scream 4’s comments on endless sequels, seeing this over the top action flick play it straight without a wink or a hint of irony just makes the experience even more gruelling.

I sound cruel, but I am not just being a cranky film critic that didn’t “get” this film. I also have my “bitterly disappointed fan” hat on. I thoroughly enjoyed the cheeky original that was an oil soaked love letter to rev heads. It was a gleefully unabashed B-grade pop corn flick that was all brawn and no brains and I enjoyed it as much as the next audience member.

The series took a dip in the subsequent entries but I was pleasantly surprised by part 4 as it reunited the entire cast of the first one, threw in a twist with an unexpected death and ramped up the car chase sequences. It had recaptured the spirit of the first one. So what went wrong? Let me count the ways…

After Dom’s (Vin Diesel) mates broke him out of a prison bus at the end of the last one, it was inevitable the beefed-up bogan’s adventures were not over. The crew – Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), Mia (Jordana Brewster) and Vince (Matt Schulze) – are now on the run from the cops and lying low in Rio. Funny how they always hide out in exotic locations. A job which requires busting a couple of cars out of a moving train carriage turns sour and draws police attention – and that of a Brazil’s most powerful drug lord.

Also keen to track them down and bring them in is Federal Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), who recruits sassy straight arrow local cop Elena (Elsa Pataky) to help. With the news that Mia is pregnant, the crew decide to take on one last job (how original) and steal the drug lord’s money which will set them for life, financially.

They bring in some familiar faces from past sequels to help execute the heist, but they have one big problem – the stash of money, which was originally split up in several not-so-secure locations, is put in a vault in the police station full of corrupt cops that are on the drug lord’s payroll. Last jobs are never easy, are they?

With the tension between now best buds criminal (Dom) and ex cop (Brian) completely eradicated, interest in this drama has plummeted. Conflict has to come from outside the group. Enter The Rock. Now it just plays like a showdown of lame, testosterone fueled dialogue uttered through gritted teeth and clenched jaws. And boy are there some howlers in this one. And Brian and Dom having a heart to heart about fatherhood? Gag.

Previous car chase sequences were edge of your seat stuff and while consistently unlikely, were never downright  jaw-droppingly  impossible like they are in this one. A hand-built, multi million dollar Italian sports car leaps off a moving train and lands without a single dent or scratch? Sure. Dom’s ability to drag a multi tonne safe down the streets of Rio without carving up any of  the bitumen and takes out 10 cars by swinging the thing around. Righteo. The man sure has some skills, and that rear bumper sure has some reinforcement. I’m not asking for the reinvention of the wheel, I’m just asking that my intelligence not be insulted.

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