Movies: "Fast Five" | Arts & Culture

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Movies: "Fast Five"
Movies:  "Fast Five"

With the arrival of “Fast Five” in movie theaters, I declare the summer movie season officially open.  

 

This continuation of the “Fast and Furious” franchise delivers all the rock-’em-sock-’em mayhem summer audiences are presumably looking for, while borrowing plot points from the far more sophisticated “Oceans Eleven” series.  Still, it’s a rousing action pic set in exotic Rio de Janeiro, which makes for a different point of view, I guess.

 

Back with us is the gruff, buff Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel), as well as former FBI agent O’Conner (Paul Walker) who is romantically linked to Dom’s sister Mia (Jordanna Brewster).  All three are on the run from the law, so they repair to Rio, where they join up with Dom’s long-lost brother Vince (Matt Schulze) to plan a new job involving the daring heist of some hot cars from a moving train.

 

Before that theft is concluded, three DEA agents are dead and Uncle Sam dispatches top manhunter Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and an elite strike force to track down our heroes, assisted by a plucky local policewoman (Elsa Pataky).  And if that weren’t enough, Dom and co. have run afoul of the biggest, suavest crook in Brazil (Joaquim de Almeida), who controls the lawless favelas where they are hiding out.

 

Are you with me so far?  Good, because the next part of the movie turns into a complex caper, involving a host of supporting players, including rappers Tyrese Gibson and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, plus a reborn Han (Sung Kang), who was killed in an earlier episode of the series, along with a seemingly endless supply of equipment and stolen cars.  And that in turn leads to the explosive finale, in which large tracts of Rio are laid waste.  In fact, the chase at the close of this movie makes the climax of "The Blues Brothers" look like a fender bender in Biddeford.

 

Just how our three penniless fugitives are able to recruit a whole cadre of skilled crooks and gear and bring them flying down to Rio is never made clear.  But never mind.  This movie is not engineered to get you thinking, but rather to overpower you with racing cars, crashes, senoritas in skimpy bikinis and lots of gunfire.

 

“Fast Five” was directed by Justin Lin, who delivered the last two movies in the series (as well as the far more interesting 2002 look at young Asian Americans, “Better Luck Tomorrow”), and was scripted by Chris Morgan, who also penned the previous “Fast & Furious” flicks.  The cinematography by Stephen F. Windon gives us quick takes on the varied colors of Rio, high and low.  

 

As far as the acting goes, what can I say?  Diesel and Johnson are about matched in the muscles department and their mano-a-mano slugfest registers equal smashes.  Walker is as flat as ever.  Their women do a better job, particularly Pataky as the Brazilian cop torn between loyalty to the law and a growing interest in Mr. Toretto.  My favorite actor in this whole shebang was de Almeida, who brings his oft-seen screen charm to a throughly despicable character.

 

So should you shell out money to see this movie?  That depends on what you’re looking for.  After all, this a summer movie, full of sound and fury,  signifying box office, and promising yet another sequel (following the credits).   I can tell you that this is probably the best of the “Fast and Furious” series that I’ve seen in terms of action, setting and plot.

 

“Fast Five” is rated PG-13 for violent action and bad language.  I give it a C-Plus.

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