Action Movie Friday: Fast Five

It is time for Action Movie Friday, where I treat an action movie like an action movie and not like a drama and stuff. All movie reviews are subjective and while I may like something, you might think it’s shit, and vice versa!

Title: Fast Five
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release: 2011
Genre: Action/Crime
Starring: Vin Diesel, Jordan Brewster, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Matt Schulze, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Tego Calderon, Don Omar, Elsa Pataky
Director: Justin Lin
Writer: Chris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson
Distributor: Universal
Budget: $125 Million
Box Office: $630 Million

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 78%

Gingersnaps Rating: Four Cookies!

Since last week got skipped, we are going straight to Fast Five. Fast Five starts off right were Fast & Furious (4) left off. Let’s call that one blindly optimistic. Between the last review and this review, I went and saw Furious 7, I now know where 3 goes and we’ll review it when we get there.

Summary:

After breaking Dom out on his way to prison, him, Mia and Brian all flee to Brazil. They meet up there with Vince who has a line on a job and Brian and Mia need a payday. In order to get the payday, they need to rob a train while it is in motion. However, Brian notices that the cars were seized by the DEA who have agents on the train, and then the guys protest Mia taking one of the cars. There is more at stake than just jacking a few cars and Dom quietly changes the plan. The others attack Dom and Brian and they have to fight their way off the train and end up in the custody of Reyes, a criminal kingpin. After an escape, they rejoin with Mia and tear the car apart. It wasn’t the car they wanted. It was the chip that was the key to Reyes financial empire. After being attacked by a DSS task force and Reyes men, Mia reveals that she’s pregnant. Now, they have one mission in mind, to build a team and steal Reyes money so their family can be safe. It’s a race to see if Reyes will kill them or if the Feds will find them first.

Review:

Fast & Furious breathed new life into this franchise. Fast Five proved that it was a good decision to keep going with almost twice as much money brought in at the box office. And at the beginning of April 2015, this movie was still moving about 50,000 units of DVDs a week. We’ll call it the Furious 7 bump, but that’s still impressive for a movie that was four years old.

With Michelle Rodriguez’s character, Letty, killed off in the previous movie. The producers had to bring in someone new, not to replace her, but someone who also had a big name. They brought in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to play Hobbs, the federal agent that was after Dom and Brian. (Mia always gets conveniently forgotten for some reason.) Dwayne Johnson is noted to be a ‘value added’ actor, which means that when he’s added into the cast of an ensemble movie he increases the amount of tickets sold substantially. (This does have the unfortunate inference of saying he can’t carry a movie on his own.)

They also brought back about everyone they could think of from every previous installment to try and tie the whole series together. So, there is Vince from 1, Roman and Tej from 2., Han from 3, Santos, Leo & Gisele from 4, all to create a new ‘family’ for the movies.

The plot for Fast Five isn’t as incredibly ludicrous as Cinema Sins would like to make it out to be, but the whole hook that starts it into motions isn’t as predictable as most action movies. The main sin being that the guys they are doing the heist with are speaking portugese and forgetting that the others do too. The major motivation behind the heist isn’t anything personal against Reyes (at first) but by Mia’s announced pregnancy and the desire to make themselves safe for the future baby. Now, I don’t support crime in any fashion, but this is at least a more solid reason than “he’s a bad guy that I have a personal vendetta against,” that most action movies that are also heists make. Overall, I found this one to be extremely well written. It moved the characters forward. The dialogue was funny. And it wasn’t incredibly predictable.

The world building for this movie was rather restrained. In fact, there were sections that they could have shown the races and didn’t. I don’t really have much to say about it. Nothing strained the bounds of incredulity so much that it threw me out of the movie. The fact two cars probably couldn’t have pulled a safe without more reinforcement than they had in reality doesn’t bother me. At least the cars were shown to be somewhat reinforced and the safe stayed within the bounds of physics.

Now, for the first time since the first movie, the ladies actually do something and are important. Mia is the catalyst for the entire plot. She is also the coordinator of the heist. Elena serves as an emotional foil to Dom. And Gisele is the girl who acts like a man. Gisele remains essentially female but what are considered male traits. The scene where she and Han are conducting surveillance on Reyes comes to mind. She didn’t have to go over to Reyes and let him manhandle her to get the hand print, but she did anyways just to show Han up. This is a huge step up from how the females are usually written in this series. They are love interests (Mia), love interests in tomboy trappings (Letty) or females held hostage (Monica.) Gisele is assertive and won’t let the boys discredit or intimidate her. Now, the plot doesn’t use her very effectively. In fact, the plots of these movies don’t use any of their characters very effectively. This is a huge step forward.

Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel went head to head several times. These were entertaining out all brawls that made me wince, go ow, and make other such noises.

I find the only complaint I have for this movie is nothing blew up for the sake of blowing up.

Fast Five was a very good start to the second ‘phase’ to this franchise. The plot moved forward and wasn’t extremely predictable. The strong theme of family was revisited and enforced. There was also emotional movement on Dom’s part. The end of the movie was very hopeful and upbeat (except for the ending credit scene that shall not be named. And why was Eva Mendes in silvery hooker heels?) Four Gingersnaps.

 

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