Fast Five, the fittingly-titled fifth film in the Fast & Furious franchise, begins where its predecessor left off: a high stakes, improbable break out of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) by his best friend Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and sister Mia (Jordana Brewster).
Following this successful bus flipping, Brian and Mia go into hiding, proving that they are now full-blown, no remorse criminals.
There is a noticeable shift in quality between Fast Five and its four predecessors. Shots look crisper. Action sequences have more electric pacing. They finally quit the one-drag-race-per-act scheme.
That’s right, it’s no longer about low-time drug runners and in-the-shadows race crews. Fast Five is about car-based heists in the name of pride and family.
The set pieces in Fast Five are impressive and endlessly entertaining. The train heist, with Walker hanging off the side of a truck which is hanging off the side of a train that is hurdling toward a bridge. The favela chase sequence over rooftops, with hulking men in muscle tees jumping through windows tackling one another. The chase sequence in which two cars have a giant safe cabled to the back bumpers, smashing erratically against every guard rail and car in sight.
If The Fast and the Furious is the meathead soap opera, then this is its primetime face lift. The characters keep their single-minded melodrama pursuit of family-at-all-costs, but they have a heretofore unseen chemistry. Each character is a cog in a well-oiled machine of grumbling one-upsmanship and ball-busting humor that may or may not be wholly self-aware of its own adolescence.
It may sound like a joke, but the fifth installment of The Fast and the Furious is the entry point to the series. Watching the first does not properly introduce one into the phenomenon that is the-F-and-the-F. The sloppiness of tone that is in the first four films falls away with Fast Five. There is still some earnestness in how the characters proceed, but the film makes no aim at presenting a serious narrative.
Instead, this action film is one that ignores the preconceived notions of the genre. It knows that it has the successful brand name behind it, so it proceeds as if it has everybody on board from the get go. Just as Diesel’s Dom becomes closer to invincible with every film, the Fast and the Furious franchise gives itself the right to succeed through its unabashed confidence in itself.
Fast Five has the same guilty pleasure capabilities of a Road House or a Commando. It transcends rational thinking. It is enjoyable for its blatant, inherent flaws. It’s just damn good.
Fast Five: A-
For this The Fast and Furious Retrospective, I have been rating the installments of this franchise primarily on their guilty pleasure factor. For Fast Five, this is an A-. But with Fast Five we reach an impasse where I would likely give the film a positive review in earnest. Would it be an A-? Probably not. But maybe a solid B-. The movie is incredibly entertaining,
As always, thanks for reading!
Like CineFiles on Facebook for updates on new articles and reviews.
—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)