“Fast Five” Movie Review

     Summer has certainly and officially started with a bang as "Fast Five", the fifth installment in the "Fast and the Furious" series, hits theaters with all cylinders firing at full speed.  Those expecting a lame and tired retread of old ideas are in for quite a shock.  "Fast Five" is not only a good film, it is clearly the best of the series.  The writers inject life into the characters and the director, Justin Lin, in particular moves to the top tier of action movie directors with some of the most breathtaking work I've seen in sometime. 

     Fast Five begins almost immediately where the fourth film ended.  Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker) has officially changed sides and is in the process of busting Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) out of prison.  I'm sure you realize there wouldn't be a movie if they were unsuccessful in doing so yes, they do succeed.  From there the crew goes into hiding in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, looking for their next big score that will allow them be set for life in a country that does not allow extradition. 

     What they don't count on is the team of Federal Agents sent by the FBI to arrest them led by none other than Agent Hobbs, played by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.  Complicating matters even further is a beef over a job gone bad with the local drug kingpin.  This leads to an all or nothing job which brings together a who's who from all of the Fast and Furious films and ultimately a plot and narrative that will remind you of the "Ocean's 11" films.

     Unlike the bombastic, dizzying, quit edit action sequences found in your typical Michael Bay film, Lin holds his camera for longer durations and let's the speed of the action be dictated by what's going on within the frame.  This makes each action set piece easy to follow and all the more effective as a result.  Even better, the surprises in the film are not in the trailer, so you can watch this film not knowing what to expect.  One such sequence is the first time early in the film where Hobbs locates Toretto's crew in the "Favellas" (Brazilian ghettos) and ends up in a roof to roof down hill foot chase.  I've never seen anything like it.  The stunt work is impeccable.  The choreography of the scene is perfectly timed.  Lin's swooping camera at a birds eye view gives such sharp detail of the surroundings that you think your actually there.  Frankly, I don't know how they pulled off this type of location shooting so effectively.

     The Rock is perfectly cast for this role.  His presence harks back to some of Arnold's more memorable roles.  The guy is absolutely huge and even dwarfs Vin Diesel when they are in scenes together!  The rest of the cast work well too.  You may remember Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris from "2 Fast 2 Furious" who are both back.  Also returning is Sung Kang from "Tokyo Drift" and Jordana Brewster as Toretto's sister Mia.  If you consider yourself a fan of the franchise, than this film will have all the feelings of a "Survivor All Stars" for you.

     In viewing Fast Five, I would challenge anyone to come up with a car chase action sequence that surpasses the last 30 minutes of this film.  A bold statement I know, but I've got to give these actors and filmmakers credit.  They have truly made a great summer film not to be confused with an awards contender, but rather solid popcorn entertainment made with an attention to detail and an obvious passion for the subject matter which is normally not seen in Hollywood today.  If this were the first film in the series I would've given it an "A", but come on!  It's the fourth sequel to a movie, "Fast and the Furious" that was a remake of "Point Break" itself. I wish Justin Lin would've come along a few sequels earlier.  GRADE: B+