Directed by Justin Lin, Written by Chris Morgan and Gary Scott Thompson (characters), 130 minutes, Rated PG-13.
By our guest blogger, Matthew Schimkowitz
The fact that the fifth installment in the seemingly endless “The Fast and the Furious” franchise isn’t a total disaster is cause for celebration. That it's actually pretty good will leave most flabbergasted.
Justin Lin’s “Fast Five” never takes itself too seriously. The script is goofy and the action is ridiculous, which is fine because the movie has no pretensions other than to be a pitch-perfect car-chase movie. Lin presents two formidable foes--a great setting and some relentless car chases--which create some of the best, turn-your-brain-off action this year.
When Lin catches up with Dominic, Brian and Mia (Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and Jordana Brewster), they’re springing Dom from the joint and heading to Brazil to lay low. This doesn’t stick, though. Does it ever? To make some quick cash, Brian and Mia get back to their old tricks. But by the time they realize the deal has gone bad, a train explodes and Brian and Dom drive a sports car off a cliff. Dom and Brian, still reaming from this sour deal, decide to take matters into their own hands and assemble a team to rob the drug lord responsible--hopefully before the DEA catches up with them.
“Fast Five”’s plot rarely makes sense, but, then again, it doesn’t have to. On a conventional level, it gives the audience exactly what it wants--good villains and great chases. Johnson offers a little of both as Hobbs, a bloodthirsty DEA agent who kills first and speaks in weak metaphors later. Meanwhile, the film’s overarching villain, the drug smuggling, Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), needlessly toasts to human misery and ensnares a destitute city in unnecessary crime.
Diesel and Walker, already extremely comfortable in the roles that made them famous, are less enjoyable. Chris Morgan’s script regulates both characters to a series of T-shirt slogans and smug grins. Diesel inspires his team like a football coach, while Walker responds with typical variations on “Let’s do this thing.”
The script may be lackluster, but Lin doesn’t seem to notice. Each chase is composed of the right amount of speed and clarity. He cuts quickly to keep up the pace and shoots wide to make sure we don’t miss a second of it. Most importantly, Lin never puts his foot on the break until the last possible second.