Movie Review: Fast Five

Title: Fast Five
Director: Justin Lin (Other movies directed: Various Fast & the Furious movies)
Starring:  Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson

The first Blockbuster of the Summer, Fast Five seemed to get everything right.  I’m am not a big fan of the first (four?) movies in the franchise.  I laughed when I heard they were making a FIFTH Fast & the Furious movie.  But damnit, I have to admit this movie is just good Summer fun.

The Bad:
First, Paul Walker the the weakest actor in the film.  On the bright side, this is probably the best performance in his career – I hate him, and even I will admit he has improved a lot in this movie.

Second, Dwayne Johnson looks oiled up the whole damn movie, but at least it’s explainable: there are several shots of his face covered with sweat from the Rio De Janeiro heat.  He said he bulked up for the role to nearly the same hulking size of his “wrestling” days, so I guess oil is the logical follow-up, or something.  Women will find it distracting in a good way, I’m sure.  I found I was noticing it enough that it detracted from the movie a bit:

To be fair, it’s HOT in Rio when you are wearing Kevlar.

And that’s about it for the bad.  I know, I was surprised too.  Now on to the good!

The Good:
The location for the film is amazing: they run around Rio in Brazil almost the entire movie, and it’s got really gorgeous locations for every scene that I can think of.  The production values are very high, so every shot is rich and full of quality.  In the final car chase, the film reportedly destroys over 200 cars.

Dwayne Johnson is a very convincing a-hole that always gets the bad guy he’s after.  I mean that in a good way – he impresses me every time he acts these days.  Vin Diesel is also quite good.  The chemistry between Diesel and Johnson is great in the film.  And by chemistry I mean they banter, then they beat the hell out of each other.

Almost every actor from previous Five movies was brought back for this “one last job” and every single one of the supporting actors has personality and acting talent.  The new faces are good too – the Brazilian rookie cop that Johnson’s character brings along comes into her own in the film.  The actress, Elsa Pataky, has been in a couple other mediocre movies such as Snakes on a Plane – but still, the movie biz took notice and named her one of the breakout stars to watch for in 2011.

The story is, surprisingly, a strong point in the movie.  Of course it’s over the top in the movie, but they pull out some interesting twists on the bank-heist plot line.  They actually go through a process of “how do we get to the vault”.  When one idea doesn’t work, they try another.  When the whole plan goes to shit, they attack it from a different direction entirely, and use what they had in place for the old plan to excellent effect.  I was engaged the whole time, and enjoyed the story from start to finish.

Fast Five is the best movie in the entire series by far.  I’m going to step out on a limb here and give it “The Best 5th In a Franchise, Ever Award”.  Because I can’t think of any other movies that have 5 in them.  Star Wars doesn’t count, because Lucas went insane before doing the latest three.  But also because it’s the perfect movie to kick off the Summer.

My score: B+

Up next: Thor!  I’m watching it in a few hours, so stay tuned for how such a ridiculous concept can get such good reviews.  I can’t wait to see how they pull THAT off!

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