Fast Five adds an interesting twist to the Fast & Furious franchise, leaning more towards heist flick than a street racing film. Universal Studios has breathed new life into the series by switching up the formula, and Fast Five won't disappoint action junkies.
Fast Five reunites Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) with cop-turned-racer Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker) in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Diesel reprises his role of Toretto, this time on the run from a high-octane federal law enforcement team led by Luke Hobbs, played by Dwayne Johnson.
Complicating their situation further is Brazilian drug kingpin Hernan Reyes, portrayed by veteran actor Joaquim de Almeida of "Desperado" fame. The only way to dig themselves out of their hole is to pull off a final caper to the tune of $100 million, aided by a variety of former series characters.
What makes the latest addition to the Fast & Furious franchise a success is the amount of adrenaline injected into the film. Fast Five is chock full of tense moments, fast cars and shootouts. Adding a bit of levity to an otherwise hardcore action flick are the duo of reggaeton artists Don Omar and Tego Calderon, who return to the series with comedic relief in tow. Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Jordana Brewster, Sung Kang, and Matt Schulze also reprise their roles to offer a sense of familiarity to viewers.
Fast Five's musical score is a mix of high-energy tracks with greater variety than other soundtracks from the franchise. The film's score doesn't feature as much American rap as earlier films, though it makes up for it with the inclusion of urban Portuguese-language songs from Brazil. International music ranges from Rio's rap to Brazilian Funk, plus the infectious "Danza Kuduro" by Puerto Rican reggaetonero Dom Omar, who returns to the film as the pessimistic Rico. Fast Five is the third film of the franchise that composer Brian Tyler contributes to, with songs ranging from cinematic to industrial rock.
There are two elements of the film that stand out. The first being the too-good-to-be-true clash between Dom and federal strike team leader Luke Hobbs. The two reaching their inevitable on-screen collision hits with the force of a scud missile soaked in testosterone.
The other element is the final car chase of the film. Gone are the intricate CGI shots of the mechanical workings of the cars involved. But what Fast Five loses in computer imaging, it makes up for with hardcore driving. The ultimate chase scene in the movie is far from what you've seen in other heist flicks, and is sure to please even the pickiest of action junkies.
That's not to say that Fast Five is Oscar-quality, of course. To truly enjoy this film, you have accept in advance that this isn't Shawshank Redemption. While much of the cast have experience in film and television, the majority serve up average acting at best. I'm a huge fan of Vin Diesel's movies (Pitch Black FTW), but he looks all of his 44 years in this film, and his acting ability hasn't improved much. While he and Paul Walker both are well-suited for action flicks, don't expect profound performances from either of them. Diesel is given more of an opportunity to flex his acting chops in Fast Five, with it's emphasis on relationships and heartbreak, but I honestly wasn't too moved.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson carries the greatest screen presence of the entire cast, giving off an air of intensity that resonates throughout every scene. But that being said, he wasn't given an opportunity to show off any real range of emotions in the film.
Despite Fast Five having it's fair share of action and suspense, the film does drag on a bit longer than necessary with it's runtime of two-plus hours. While the film's conclusion is fairly clear, it's also given an open-ending that paves the way for the franchise's sixth effort, and the possible return of a significant character from the series.
Overall, Fast Five is simply a fun watch, a guilty pleasure if you're a fan of heist flicks or action movies in general. If you're a motor head, you might be a bit let down at the abandonment of the franchise's original formula, though the change still make for a welcome spin on the series. Definitely get the Steelbook Blu-Ray to own one of the better movies in the series.