Fast Five

Where to begin with Fast Five?

I guess I’ll start by saying it’s the first film in the series I’ve seen – and it wasn’t my idea to go. My girlfriend, who is sometimes an oracle when it comes to bad action films, suggested it. I’ve avoided these films for one simple reason: they look really dumb. Plus, I’m not really a car person. Don’t get me wrong – I love my 1997 Volvo station wagon and if a 1970 Dodge Challenger came into my possession I wouldn’t cry but I’m just not that interested in automobiles. I think of them as a tool, a device I use to get from point a to point b. Regardless of my disdain for most car movies I loved Fast Five.

Don’t let my love for Fast Five deceive you – I didn’t think it was a good film. What I did like about Fast Five is it doesn’t pretend to be anything else than what it is: the fifth in a long line of outrageous action films where two muscle laden protagonists race cars and steal things. Fast Five didn’t disguise mediocrity and it’s honest in what it markets itself as; for that I applaud everybody involved. It’s a little disgusting when producers tout their pedestrian products as paradigm shifting works and Fast Five is the exact opposite. Thank god.

Although I’m not familiar with the events of the previous four films I was able to pick up the cues immediately. Paul Walker plays Brian O’Connor, a former FBI agent who’s on the lam from his previous employers. The film begins with O’Connor and his girlfriend Mia (Jordana Brewster) breaking Mia’s brother and Brian’s friend Dom (Vin Diesel) out of prison. Using cars to perform a spectacular prison bus escape the film begins with ridiculousness and it doesn’t end there. For the next two hours this trio fly’s cars over cliffs, jumping off without a hitch right before they hit water, they tow a vault behind two sports cars, destroying everything in sight, and much more. While the stunts in the film are outlandish and unbelievable they’re fun.

Another interesting portion of this film is its embrace of multiculturalism. Aside from Brian there isn’t another white hero in the film. The team assembled to pull of the film’s heist includes two African Americans, an Asian American, an Israeli woman, two South Americans, and others. The Rock, who likes being called Dwayne Johnson nowadays (he’ll always be The Rock, regardless of what he does in the future. He can win an Oscar, a Tony, and any other award and he’ll still be a former professional wrestler) delivers a credible performance as agent Hobbs: a rough and tough American specialist whose lust for capturing Brian and Mia is only outshined by his absurd action stunts and overblown ego and machismo. He’s also part black and part Samoan. Fast Five is good at portraying the cultural landscape of early 21st century America and for that I applaud the filmmakers.

And now on to the bad parts of the film.

This film is dumb. Really dumb. It assumes the audience is stupid and plays to the lowest common denominator. These goons pulling off a heist where they steal $100 million or so dollars is more unbelievable than Camping’s doomsday prophecy. The film relies on fantasy and asks the audience to believe the shit they’re selling and disregard any sense of realism. Of course it’s the movies but audiences demand a certain amount of realism for their money and Fast Five doesn’t deliver any realism whatsoever (aside from presenting breathing humans driving cars in real locations; other than that its hyper-fictional).

Some of the actors and actresses do perform well but their characters are pretty one dimensional. The chemistry between Walker and Diesel is quite unbelievable and it’s incredible these two went through a few previous movies together. In short, I don’t believe these two care about each other in any way; whether they like or dislike each other seems irrelevant – I didn’t believe they even knew each other. It seemed like they were reading their lines, not performing them.

If you’re looking for a realistic action film (is there really such a thing?) don’t see Fast Five. If you’re looking for a good time in an escapist paradise check this film out. For all its flaws it’s a fun film that I’m glad I went to. Thankfully they won’t make another but considering this movie was quite profitable (bringing in over $500 million domestically off a $125 million dollar budget) and they left the ending a bit open I wouldn’t be surprised if another Fast and the Furious film will hit theaters in the next few years. Until then, enjoy this next piece of mediocre celluloid garbage Hollywood churned out for movie going audiences this summer.

Here is the trailer

6 responses to “Fast Five

  1. Another solid review. I was surprised at the speed in which they churned this one out, considering the last one only came out a year or two ago. The first film is pretty good. It’s much of the same standard action fare. But the high-octane, car-related set pieces help it maintain a pretty high standard for an action film.

    The first film does make more effort in terms of narrative, which probably makes it worse than Fast 5 , but I suppose that comes with the territory of establishing a franchise. I haven’t seen it, but I imagine Fast 5 is a far greater addition to a relatively tired franchise than the latest Pirates of the Caribbean film.


  2. Thanks for the kind words man. =)

    When it comes to the Pirates movie I stopped at the third one, which I didn’t actually finish. About 45 minutes in I turned it off and never went back; I doubt Depp and company will receive any additional cash from me, at least regarding this franchise. The new one looks like total shit and I’d rather watch Two and a Half Men repeatedly instead (and I loathe that show).

    There’s part of me that wants to see the first Fast and the Furious but I know I’ll be disappointed. Instead I’ll settle on seeing the last in the series (although I’m skeptical that the franchise is dead and buried). Like I said in my post: I liked the film but recognize its utter garbage. Luckily I’m a fan of bad movies (not all the time but I have a soft spot in my heart for cheesy and bad movies) and Fast Five is a prime example.

    Hope all is well across the pond. Incidentally I’ll be over on your continent in a few weeks. Unfortunately I won’t be in England for very long but I can’t wait. Take care. =)

    By the way, I’ve been horrible with keeping up with anything for the last week or so (I’m stuck reading two books and haven’t been going online as much. By the way, if you have the chance you should read The Filter Bubble – a great book about online data mining and internet personalization.). I swear I’m going to read your blog tomorrow and relish it intensely.

  3. Ha. Thanks man, but I’ve been pretty slack with writing myself recently. I’ve done a lot of reading, but I’ve finished uni for the year and most of my time has been dedicated to drinking, gaming and sleeping. I have an article mostly finished, so I’ll get that sorted and posted hopefully.

    Are you going travelling then? You might catch some decent weather over here if you’re lucky.

  4. I hope the weather over there is pleasant but I avoid expectations with travel – somehow something always goes askew. I’ll be in the Netherlands for a few days and Paris also. I’m not spending much time in jolly ‘ol England; just plane transfers and train stuff. The original plan was to spend a few days there and a few in Paris but something came out in Amsterdam and I can’t pass it up.

    I just finished school a few weeks ago too although I have a class during the second half of the summer semester. I actually don’t need another class but I wanted to challenge myself (and raise my GPA a point or so). By the way, if you’re reading a good deal you should check out a book called The Filter Bubble by Eli something-or-another. It’s very interesting and I just finished it the other day.

    If you want to party in Europe while I’m there let me know and I’ll shoot you a line off this grid. =)

  5. Yeah I’ll have a search for that book. It certainly sounds like something that would interest/anger/urge me to write something. I doubt I’ll be anywhere in Europe aside from Ireland anytime soon. I am however, hopefully going to New York later in the year. The same party invitation goes out to you haha.

    And what the hell is your GPA?

  6. I might be in NYC in Sept. Let me know.
    Right now my GPA overall is a 3.6 but my GPA in my major is a 3.8something. I did pretty well with my education but I credit that to being older when I started college. If I started when I was 18 I’d probably be a mediocre student. I don’t know why but I love college and want to stay for the rest of my life – hence my interest in graduate school.

    That book really upset me but opened my eyes to the techniques used by large internet companies to personalize the internet and gentrify it. Basically they’re wrangling in the internet and changing it into another shitty consumer product. What a shame. =(

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