Let me give a brief sum up of my experiences with the Fast series. First there was The Fast and the Furious. It was basically a remake of Point Break however instead of surfing it was about cars. I’m not complaining that a movie is similar to another movie as long as it does its job in being entertaining which in this case it didn’t. Point Break is a crap movie, but it is entertaining as hell with Gary Busey, Patrick Swayze, and Keanu Reeves giving absolutely hilarious performances. It is a camp classic that everyone can laugh at. Fast and the Furious has Paul Walker who is as dull as Cream of Wheat and Vin Diesel who, as much as I enjoy him, cannot make up the slack of missing an equivalent to Keanu Reeves and Gary Busey. I also didn’t know the world of illegal street racing was so dull. I like car chases and explosions but not of people driving in a straight line and seeing CGI Nitro going through a car like a bad episode of CSI (or just CSI).
I decided to skip out the next few movies until the cast got back together for the frustratingly titled Fast and Furious (removing the “the’s“ from the title totally differentiates it from the first movie). I was basically seeing if the series got any better from the first one. It didn’t. They finally did dispense with the dull street races for more action movie car chases but the thing which killed the movie for me was use of CGI cars instead of practical stuntwork. On my short list of things which should not be computer generated, blood is one and cars should be right next to it. While CGI can do many things well (I am not someone who rants that all CGI is shit) the technology cannot do those at all. I’m sure the CGI was top notch for that movie and seeing those cars whiz around an even fakier cave made me think I was watching a high end PS2 game. Nothing compares to seeing real life cars smashing into real life things.
So why see Fast Five if I’ve disliked everything so far? I dunno. Boredom? Long story short is I watched it so now I’ll just review it.
Fast Five is probably the biggest departure from the original which is probably why I like it the most of all the “Fast“ franchise. The filmmakers have finally thrown up their arms and said “fuck it“ to dedicating a movie series to 8 second races. They finally just went balls out and made an insanely ludicrous action movie and in doing so, finally have some of that campy charm I was looking for in the series originally. Instead of small time theives looking to fund their car obsession, they are now Oceans Eleven style theives who are gods behind the wheel and have technical resources out of a Mission Impossible movie. I loathe when people use the phrase ‘turn off your brain movie‘ but after seeing the first/fourth installments I intend that phrase more for the writers to stop trying so hard and give me my dumb action movie which this movie does.
This movie has The Rock being a badass like he should be. This movie has fight scenes which (in particular the Rock/Diesel fight) are very good. You have car chases with actual cars in them. Yes, there is CGI around it but I was incredibly grateful to see some real cars for a change. And you get the finale where the crew just about wrecks all of Rio with a laughable car chase with a bank vault. This is a movie who knows its bad but is fine with being campy and delivering on the action.
This movie is not all fun. The second act pulls out the drag chute as the writers have to set up the heist. To say the cast and writing of Fast Five do not hold a candle to the veteran casting and witty writing of Oceans Eleven is the understatement of the year. Hell, I’m not even sure they hold a candle to the remake of The Italian Job. Paul Walker continues to be the least interesting man in the world and he is surrounded by other characters who, I guess we are supposed to all recognize cause we are all longtime diehard fans, but I just don’t give a crap. I don’t think many fans were staying up nights wondering what happened to some side characters in Tokyo Drift.
This is an admitted guilty pleasure for me. This movie is incredibly stupid but everyone involved was aware of that. This is the one time in the series when the tone was fun. It goes over the top in the action and the set pieces and I enjoyed how blissfully insane it all got. For a non-fan of the series as I am, this was easily the best of the lot and on its own an enjoyable action movie.