Monday, May 2, 2011

Fast Five (2011)

"You think you can steal MY movie!?"

     Fast Five is the fifth (sneaky isn't it?) installment in a film franchise that should have crashed and burned after the cheeseball second entry, appropriately titled: 2 Fast 2 Furious. At the least it should have been relegated to the darkest depths of straight-to-DVD hell. But the series survived, and actually started to grow a little. By the time the fifth movie in a series like this rolls out, they have to be scraping the bottom of the barrel for ideas though, right? I mean, there is no way Fa5ter and Furiou5er could actually be a good movie. I have to say this assumption is dead wrong. Not only does Fast Five not suck, but it succeeds as a great action movie in it's own right.
     Fast Five is two hours and ten minutes of non-stop, full-throttle, boot-to-ass action. We come into the film to find Vin Diesel & Co. fleeing to Rio de Janero as they are now super-wanted criminals. After a nice train ride and a little swim, they surmise that the only correct thing to do is pull the ever-elusive "one last job" and forever retire from a life of crime. In order to execute this monumental heist, Diesel decides to get the band back together in a montage that would make the training sequence from Rocky 4 weep with envy. Now that every character from the franchise with a pulse is back and ready to do business, action movie law clearly dictates that there needs to be some sort of police force with near superhuman abilities to try and thwart Team Furious and put an end to their plans. Enter: The Rock and his crew of elite bounty hunters. Everything that happens next has to be seen to be believed...which may be the wrong turn-of-phrase as there is nothing even remotely resembling believable that happens in this movie, but it is certainly worth your time.
      I'd be lying if I said I was a huge fan of the series coming into this film. The whole street-racing angle just wasn't my cup of tea. Ditching the racing angle (for the most part) is one of the reasons why this movie succeeds where the others failed. This is more of an old school heist film than anything else, and the majority of the plot is dedicated to hatching and executing said heist. Aside from this change in direction the other huge asset to this film is the inclusion of The Rock into the mix. He walks into this series like he owns it, chewing the scenery and spitting barbed cliches with the dead seriousness of delivering an Oscar-worthy dramatic performance. He represents an actual obstacle for the team to overcome that has been missing in every other installment. He wants to take them down and quickly makes it clear to the audience that he is more than capable of this task with or without his team.
       Justin Lin directs the over-the-top action sequences in this film with tongue planted so firmly in cheek the audience cannot help but have fun. Right from the start you realize that Lin must have had a meeting with the Laws of Physics and said, "Hey guys, it looks like we aren't going to need you this time around. Feel free to sit this one out." This opens up a world where two Dodge Chargers can tow a bank vault through city streets, decimating everything in their paths. That particular sequence is one of the most exhilarating and exciting times I've had in a theatre in a long while. After the brief meeting with Physics, Lin probably watched Hot Fuzz a few times and said, "There have to be more Action Movie Cliches than that. This is a challenge." He then proceeded to lace them throughout the film like a Michael Bay who is aware of how to properly construct a coherent story. Listen up, Mike, the gauntlet has been thrown down.
     If you are at all a fan of mindless action films you have absolutely no reason to not race to the nearest theatre to absorb all the glorious might of The Fa5t and The Furiou5: Rumble in Rio as soon as you can. I had a blast watching this and (I cant believe I'm saying this) cannot wait to see Fast and the Furious: Six Cylinder Showdown. Oh yeah, be sure to stay after the credits, it's a nice little cliffhanger. Grade: A-

The Good, the Bad, and "Utah! Get me two!" 
     You can't talk about heist movies without talking about Heat. Master director Micahael Mann's magnum opus stars Robert Deniro, Al Pacino, Val Kilmer, Danny Trejo, Tom Sizemore, William Fichtner, Natalie Portman, and a slew of awesome character actors. Just a cast like that alone is enough to love this movie. Whereas Fast Five is all about fun and crazy stunts, Heat is about the calculation and risk that goes into a heist. The films are definitely on opposite ends of the spectrum, but they're both a hell of a lot of fun.
     Torque is a movie that just shouldn't exist. It's The Fast and The Furious on motorcycles with about 86% more suck. It is (thankfully) the only feature length film directed by Joseph Kahn, a man who brought multiple Britney Spears music videos into the world. Seriously, if you want to see a movie just to ridicule every single frame this movie is solid gold. You can even make a fun drinking game out of it**. Every time The Fast and the Furious is directly referenced, take a drink. Good luck making it all the way through.   
     Point Break is one of my favorite movies and one of the best and most important action movies ever made. It is the template for many modern action films. In fact, the entire Fast and Furious series wouldn't even exist without it, as the whole idea for the franchise is a direct knock off of Point Break. It is directed by Academy Award winning director Kathryn Bigelow and stars Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, and the inimitable Gary Busey. Keanu Reeves (Paul Walker) is an undercover agent sent to find out who is commiting a series of bank (truck) robberies. It turns out the robbers are none other than his new buddy Patrick Swayze (Vin Diesel) and his gang of surfer (racer) cronies. Sound familiar?

** - Disclaimer: does not condone drinking irresponsibly or illegally. Nor does it condone the viewing of horrific crimes against cinema like Torque. Both are poetentially hazardous to your health. Torque may even cause death. 


1 comment:

  1. Now THAT'S a god damned good review! I'm so pumped about this movie now. Danielle is going to be pissed, but packing can wait cause my ass is seeing this Friday night.

    P.S. nice touch with "master director".