Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

Film Review – Fast (and the Furious) Five

I actually sat down and started thinking about the way this franchise has progressed. The logic that has gone into the names for the installments in this series heads down a very interesting path. It started as “The Fast and The Furious” then went to “2 Fast 2 Furious” popped up for an interlude with “Tokyo Drift” dropped a “the” when the fourth installment “Fast and Furious” came out and now we’re getting “Fast Five.” They are streamlining the names of the series to the point that when the inevitable sixth entry comes out in a year and a half or so it’ll just be called “Ffffff” with six f’s.

I lead off with that bit because I think it showcases the absurdity of the series pretty vividly. The titles of the film alone are so simple and follow a pattern in such a way that being surprised by these movies becomes a physical impossibility. So how in the hell am I so surprised that Fast Five is actually one of the best action films I’ve seen in a while? I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much out of this one. The movies have gotten progressively more asinine with each installment. The last one was, quite frankly, idiotic and incomprehensible at times.

So when the fifth installment came out I figured it would hit the pinnacle of bad filmmaking and hopefully prevent the onset of yet another installment. The problem is that for the first time in the series, everything meshes into a coherent product. The action scenes are framed and shot well. The pacing is tight and despite running over two hours in length never feels like a drag. Even the people who can’t act for a damn are counter-balanced by their foils. The film is essentially the best parts of The Expendables mingled with the best parts of Ocean’s Eleven. Plus the main villain is the dude who played Bucho in Desperado. Why they didn’t find a way to get Antonio Banderas on the team I will never know.

From what I’ve been reading following the film’s release is that this entry marks the beginning of a new trilogy where the focus shifts away from the street-racing culture and gravitates more toward the criminal heist based film genre and I definitely see it when watching this film as there are several street races in the film but only one actually occurs on camera. That element will always be a background element of the characters for the series but the narrative is not going to revolve around that the way that it did in the original or especially in Tokyo Drift.

Do yourself a favor and check the movie out. It’s fun as hell. The (unintentional?) homoeroticism between The Rock and Vin Diesel is enough to cause fits of laughter. You’ll enjoy yourself whether you enjoy the movie or not.

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