It’s probably best to get this out of the way immediately: “Fast Five” is not going to win any awards for excellence in filmmaking. It isn’t a life-changing movie by any stretch of the imagination. This fact doesn’t matter, however, because it never tries to be a movie like that. “Fast Five” knows exactly what it is: It’s an adrenaline-charged action movie filled with eye candy in the form of its actors, actresses, cars and stunts – like all of its predecessors – and it does an excellent job at being just that.
The action begins right away, with recurring characters Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker, “Takers”) and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning”) breaking resident badass Dominic “Dom” Toretto (Vin Diesel, “Babylon A.D.”) out of a prison bus on the way to serve his sentence. O’Conner and Mia flee to Rio, the location where they agreed to meet Dom. Once there, long-time fans of the series get a treat of their own: Vince (Matt Schulze, “Extract”), a character from “The Fast and the Furious,” is down there waiting for them. He turns Mia and O’Conner on to a job stealing three cars from a moving train.
What ensues in this operation are some of the coolest stunts/scenes in the movie. Dom shows up with the heist team, and the four “Fast” veterans double-cross their Brazilian comrades by stealing the cars themselves and heading back to hiding in Rio – where the viewer learns what was hinted at earlier in the film: Mia is pregnant with Brian’s child. This sentimental turn of events brings about some of the biggest faults with the movie. When Walker and Diesel are attempting to show their excitement and care for the pregnant Brewster, their acting is somewhat awkward and stilted.
In order to combat the ever-dangerous fugitives, the U.S. calls in a specialist: a Diplomatic Security Service agent named Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). He is quickly portrayed as an all-business jerk. Hobbs is accompanied by Rio police officer Elene Neves, who is played by Elsa Pataky. Pataky does her best impression of a pretty cardboard cutout throughout the movie and is easily the biggest flaw in the otherwise solid movie.
In double-crossing the Brazilian criminals, the Torettos and O’Conner realize they are in the crosshairs of criminal kingpin Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida, “The Burning Plain”) and need to get out of Rio – Vince double-crossed our anti-heroes and was kicked out of the group in a scene reminiscent of his outburst in the first installment in the series. Those remaining decide the best method of doing so would be ripping off “Ocean’s 11” and assembling a team of past actors and actresses of the series in order to steal $100 million from Reyes.
This team assemblage is only the first page out of the “Ocean’s” book. What follows is a series of preparations for a heist that is taken almost directly from “Ocean’s 11,” down to finding a duplicate vault to use in the heist. Even the music and camera angles are in the style of the Steven Soderbergh trilogy. This blatant imitation is not a fault with the movie, however, as it makes for a very fun ride.
When all their sneaky tactics fail, Dom and the gang switch to the brute force tactics that served them well for four other movies, which leads to the final climactic car chase involving two flat-black Dodge Chargers dragging a vault through Rio’s streets. Needless to say, this is a very exciting scene.
“Fast Five” is nothing more than a thrill ride, but it is a very fun ride for all viewers. The movie is predictable throughout, some acting is awkward and much of its ideas are taken from “Ocean’s 11,” but none of this holds it back entirely – due to the strength of its action, stunts and Vin Diesel’s incessant badassery. In context of the rest of the series, the quality of the movie can be slightly increased. Before going into the movie, viewers should know that the plot takes place before “Tokyo Drift,” but after all the others in the series. It is also important to stay a bit after the credits for a teaser at the next movie in the series (yes, there’s already a next one). For a fun night at the theater, you can’t go wrong with “Fast Five.”
3.5 stars out of 5