Here is one movie that sets out to achieve mindlessness in first degree – and does so proudly.
Fast Five is the latest installment in a flagging franchise whose preposterousness and snooze factor ramps up the further it gets in. Somewhere between the meet-cute of bland and blander (Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, respectively) and the death of arguably the hottest female character in the series are action movies – or at least we are told they were – so derivative in form and style, they assured at least that Michael Bay will not have the distinction of having directed the most brainless, pointless action movies this side of Hollywood.
Which is actually kind of sad, because the premise for the first Furious was at least a lot more promising, in a no-thinking-required kind of way, more promising anyway than the no-plot movie Gone in Sixty Seconds (starring Angelina Jolie and Nicolas Cage’s mullet).
Fast Five brings us back to first Furious movie, and more. The Justin Lin-directed movie wisely brought in Dwayne Johnson to pump up the much-needed life and testosterone to the film, and brought back practically everybody that has been involved in the franchise from Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson (from the lackluster 2Fast, 2Furious) and Sung Kang (from the forgettable Tokyo Drift). The only one missing was Paul Walker’s manicurist – or maybe, I wasn’t paying attention that much to notice.
Anyway, the plot is… well, in a movie like this, honestly, does the plot even matter? It’s set in Rio de Janeiro, and it involves something about $100 million, a heist, an assembly of thieves each with specific set of skills, and a vault that gets dragged through the city streets and decimated the whole downtown area. It’s Ocean’s Eleven on steroids and an all-protein diet. And a little Italian Job (Brazilian Job?) thrown in.
Lin knew what the audience wanted, and he gave that to them by spades. He stripped the movie of whatever qualities that made Ocean’s Eleven a superior film. Stripped of all charisma, wit and intelligence, we are left with a film with a lot less baggage to carry so that it can concentrate instead on the relentless action, heart-pounding chase scenes and a one-on-one WWF style pounding between Johnson and Diesel.
Nobody goes to see a film titled Fast Five and expects a careful study of the effects of a consumerist culture with a drag race as an allegory for human redemption (or something like that). The beauty of films like these is that it knows it has no other purpose than pure mindless entertainment, and it delivers in a way. No right-wing posturing about freedom (hello Mr Bay!), no Messiah-like figure in the midst of the carnage (hello, Mr Bay, again!). It’s a movie about thugs and a cop that looks meaner than said thugs.
In other words, it’s a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. And that, I believe is the beauty of it.
That said, would I recommend it?
Hell, yeah. If you’re looking a means to de-stress, this would be it (stay away from Priest, at least – this is a much better alternative).
Entertaining. Hell, yeah!
Three Stars out of Four
NOTES ON WATCHING FAST FIVE
- Wasn’t the Sung Kang character killed off in Tokyo Drift? Why the h*ck is he in this movie then? Either the Book of the Dead subplot was left in the cutting room floor, or somebody just don’t give a f*ck about continuity.
- Paul Walker is a wonder-ful actor. That is, you wonder why somebody with no discernable acting skills like that keep getting hired. But then again, this is an industry where Mark Wahlberg has more offers than his more talented sib, Donnie. So I guess no surprise there.
- Ditto with Vin Diesel, an actor so lacking in charisma, a talking potato would have taken his role and nobody would notice the difference.
- I didn’t know Tyrese Gibson can do comedy.
- All movie theaters seemed to be installed with morons who always offer a running commentary of what is happening on-screen. And they always get the actor’s name wrong. Repeat after me, Vin Diesel, not Van Diesel. Get it?
- In what universe would a muscle-bound Dwayne Johnson lose to Vin Diesel in a one-on-one?
- If you were a villain and your money is in danger of being stolen, would you put EVERYTHING in one vault? Has he not heard of Swiss banks?
- Wow. I just saw a vault doubling as a wrecking ball. I’ve died and gone to action heaven.
- Somebody must have told Dwayne Johnson his rock-hard biceps and threateningly-looking pecs do not spell “Alpha Male” enough, so they had him sport a ridiculous beard and made him walk as though there are boils growing in his groin. Or maybe he really has boils growing in his groin.
- Joaquim de Almeida in another role requiring him to wear a suit and a glower. Is there no other roles for this man?