Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson
Director: Justin Lin
Running Time: 131 mins
Fast Five is an American film and the fifth in the Fast & Furious series. While in Brazil, Dom Torretto and Brian O’Conner assemble a team to pull off an enormous heist that will buy them their freedom. However, they are continually pursued by a crack police squadron.
After a steady run of progressively duller and characterless sequels, Fast Five represents a nice change for the franchise, and a step in what seems like the right direction. Although there still isn’t much to write home about when it comes to the plot, it’s a gleefully action-packed and fun-loving blockbuster with some thrilling sequences that go a long way to making two hours of decent popcorn entertainment.
We’ll start on that very point, given how the film kicks off with a massive bang. After a few minutes establishing where the characters are in the context of the series arc, the film strides into enormous action territory with what is probably the franchise’s most exhilarating action sequence so far.
Completely ludicrous and beyond the laws of all reason, the opening action extravaganza sets the film up on the right foot by showing that it’s more about having a good time than anything a little too serious, as previous instalments in the series have struggled with.
Although I will say that the action sequences are a little too few and far between in this movie, the various periods where the film explodes into life with some epic fights and chases throughout are huge fun to watch, and exactly what I think this series should be doing. Justin Lin’s impressive direction makes the action look spectacular in all their ridiculousness, and with an even slicker vibe than his previous two efforts in the series, Fast Five is often a fantastic spectacle to enjoy.
Along with the excellent action, the performances here are a marked improvement over the last few films. Paul Walker and Vin Diesel’s chemistry is the best since The Fast And The Furious, supporting players Gal Gadot and Jordana Brewster add well to the team atmosphere for the first time, and the addition of the effortlessly charismatic Dwayne Johnson, albeit on the other side of the law, is always going to bring more joy and excitement to the table.
Where this film really falls down for me, once again, is the story. It feels like less of an issue given that this is much more of a fun, popcorn blockbuster, but that doesn’t escape the fact that there’s not really much plot. Yes, it’s a simple heist story, and that paves the way for some fantastic mindless action throughout, but with such a wide ensemble cast, it’s pretty remarkable how thin all of the characters are.
In truth, I didn’t care enough about the fate of each of the characters, and not even Walker and Diesel’s chemistry could save the fact that their relationship, while chummier, is a lot less interesting than it was in the very first film. I’m glad that this film is happier to sit back and go mad with some crazy action, but given that there are still a lot of dialogue scenes over an excessively long 130-minute runtime, the poor story does make for some pretty dull periods along the way.
Overall, I had fun with Fast Five. Its action is off the wall from start to finish, it’s a well-directed and well-acted film throughout, and although it may not have the best story to fill its two hour plus duration, it’s a move in the right direction for the franchise to something a lot sillier and more fun to watch, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.0.