22 April 2011
FAST & FURIOUS 5- Review
What can be distinguished of the plot at this point finds criminal siblings Dom and Mia Toretto, and their habitual lapdog, Brian O'Conner, escaping to Rio in order to avoid a federal manhunt. Incapable of lying low, they begin to mount a daring heist on a corrupt businessman who double-crossed them on a job. When a couple of DEA agents are caught in the crossfire, federal agent and supercop Hobbs is put on the criminals' trail.
If you're easily affronted by dodgy physics in films, you should know by now that these are not the films for you. In case you had forgotten since 2009's de-infinitived sequel Fast & Furious, we open on a resolution to that film's cliffhanger, with our heroes liberating Dom Toretto from a bus bound for prison by crashing into it in a muscle car, causing the bus to flip over and roll several times, squashing it to about half of its original height. Even a newsreader in the film has the dignity to be astonished that there are subsequently "no fatalities" in this pile-up.
In the larger pile-up that is Fast Five, the main casualty is Paul Walker. Having found a modicum of box office success starring in the awful heist movie Takers between sequels, he almost seems to realise for himself that the series that started with him as a protagonist has gotten away from him. In any scene with Vin Diesel and someone else, he almost seems to be trying to remind us that he's still there. Walker is such a bland actor that he's even overshadowed by Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson, never mind the enormity of Dwayne Johnson's role.
Still, this is a film that reunites racers from various separate instalments of the series, making Walker slightly less superfluous. The issues with the script remain the same, but there are some differences this time. Fast Five is an unabashed heist movie, and just as existing original scripts were repurposed for successful properties with Die Hard 4.0 and Ocean's Twelve, it feels like the same thing happened on this one. An "original script" can't take long to write for these characters, but to look at the scale of the production, it's remarkable that it's come together just two years after the previous instalment.
It's clearly had a great deal of money spent on it, not only for the on-location shooting in Brazil, but for the excision of the cheap and nasty CGI effects that negated the point of the car races in previous outings. There's actually a lot of admirable practical effects work here, but it's just a shame that so much effort goes into a script that's mostly guff. There was a point in contention online last week, saying that the Scream series had the most inept screen cops. The cops in the universe of The Fast and the Furious are clearly far worse, because without exception, they're all either going to join Toretto or unsuccessfully give chase as he vrooms around doing wrong.
The signs are that Fast Five is too much of a stretch for even the series' most dogged fans. I saw the film at a pretty packed opening day screening, and several people stuck around for a mooted closing credits sting that paves the way for a sixth instalment. This was in spite of the film's punishing 130 minute running time, which makes this the slowest film ever to feature the word "fast" in the title(s), by my measure. It's overlong, and after the plot twist in this additional scene, the incredulous and unimpressed reactions of the teenage boys sat behind me seemed to eulogise the series' popularity pretty well.
Fast Five is now playing in cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen Fast Five, why not share your comments below?
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.