Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Aright listen up! The guys we're after are professional runners...We find 'em we take 'em as a team and we bring 'em back. And above all else we don't ever, ever let them get into cars.

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

The Fast and Furious series and I have had a rough relationship. I enjoyed the first one (if nothing more than I enjoy fast cars and action scenes), hated the second one, kinda liked the third and was meh on the fourth. I fully realize these will never be Oscar worthy films (and if that day ever comes I will eat my hat) but getting bogged down by useless and sometimes confusing narratives, trying to get more emotionally out of Paul Walker and not enough action seems counter intuitive to a film called "FAST AND FURIOUS."

So needless to say I was slightly hesitant at the idea of a fifth one. The story seemed simple enough and bringing back a lot of characters from the series seemed, on paper at least, a good idea, but trailers can be deceiving and after seeing the trailer for the umpteenth time, I was nearly exasperated with the movie before having seen it. But since I go into a movie with an open mind I let all those pent up feelings go and tried to enjoy the movie. And surprisingly, I did. I really did. In fact this is hands down the best of the series. I've seen it three times and I still really enjoy it. It's simple, sleek, and pumped full of action with only enough story to warrant their doing what they're doing. My question? Why did it take until the fifth movie to get this right? Maybe 5 is the new 2 in terms of sequels. Who knows?
The story follows shortly after the fourth one as Dom (Diesel) is getting taken to jail for the multiple crimes he's committed. His sister Mia (Brewster) and friend (well on and off at least) Brian (Walker) break him out and they head to Rio to escape prosecution. While in Rio they get a job moving cars off a train but, like most action movie jobs, it goes wrong. They get away with the cars (specifically Mia gets away with a Ford GT40) but in the process one of the henchmen shoots and kills 3 DEA agents who were covering the seized merchandise. It so happens the cars belong to an evil drug lord named Reyes and he wants that GT40 for himself. Dom and Brian escape and go back to their garage only to find out that there is a chip in the car that contains all of Reyes' business on it.

Meanwhile a DSS agent named Hobbs (The Rock) is sent to track down Dom and Brian under the idea that they were responsible for the murder of the DEA agents, and not the henchmen (who happened to work for Reyes). Things hit the fan when Reyes' crew and Hobbs crew' descend on the garage but instead of splitting up, Dom, Brian and Mia decide to stick together because Mia is pregnant with Brian's baby. So they call up some old associates and decide that they are going to have one last job so that they can stop running and live happily ever after.
The story is great considering the kind of film it is. It's like a street version of Oceans 11 but with more cars and lots of things shooting, blowing up and sweating. Yes sweating. The Rock alone could fill a pool with the amount of sweat he gives. I mean look at the picture below...glowing with sweat. The film never gets bogged down, save for a few moments where Brian laments on not having a good father figure and worrying about the baby, but those moments are only sprinkled in throughout the movie while the majority of the movie is fast paced and exciting.

The writing, especially the dialogue is cheesy but in a good action movie cheesy sort of way. The Rock tries his best to outdo Seagal and JCVD with the amount of one liners he drops throughout the movie. The difference between the three men though: The Rock's are kind of badass. Maybe it's all those years as a wrestler, but he knows how to lay down a good line, or at least make a bad line sound better. Diesel and Walker do what they're good at and play to their strengths. Walker is mostly just a pretty face and doesn't try to have a ton of monologues or big emotional scenes, something that has bugged me in previous movies. Diesel on the other hand has AN acting chop of sorts so he gets to deliver the big speeches and the like most of the time. And it works when he says it. Diesel has a calm, soothing voice when he's at rest and so his voice can be very engaging to listen to. The rest of the cast is good but there's so many of them that it's hard to really to pinpoint  any of the side characters that really blew me away. They all had their moments, which is something not all movies can juggle.
Fast Five is surprisingly good, but maybe not that surprising because for once the series plays to its greatest strengths and irons out most of the problems that the other movies have. It's sleek, shiny, well shot, action packed and I enjoyed every minute of it. The series will never be more than action movie fodder for people who like their explosions with a little less robots but at least with this one they are aware of that and do their best to make it the best action movie fodder it can be.


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