It’s not very often that you can claim the fifth movie in a franchise is possibly the best move in said franchise. Strangely enough, that is very much the case with Fast Five. Most of this can be attributed to returning director Justin Lin, who seems to be one of the few people around these days who knows how to effectively shoot a car chase or action scene. It’s kind of sad that that Fast Five’s rough fistfight between The Rock and Vin Diesel is the first time in years that I’ve been able to actually follow a fistfight in an action movie. Regardless, over the past three films in the franchise, Lin has really come into his own.
Obviously, the action is the biggest thing Fast Five has going for it. The chases and stunts in the film are numerous and absurd but an absolute blast to watch. I have this weird feeling that the Fast and Furious series is really a tale about the apocalypse, where the laws of physics on earth slowly melt away over the course of several years and following the lives of these street racers is the best way to observe the coming end. You’ve no doubt seen the previews for the film in which two Chargers (I think?) pull a gigantic, several-ton bank vault through the streets of Rio. It’s a lengthy sequence, but it’s so entertaining you’ll never feel like it drags.
If you’re a fan of the Fast and Furious franchise, the movie is filled with bits of fan service. Pretty much every major, still-living character returns and there are plenty of in-jokes to amuse people who have good memory of the previous films. One of my favorite bits is the constant attempts by Paul Walker to beat Vin Diesel in a race, despite never being able to. But back to the crowded cast, the film is very similar to Ocean’s 11—a comparison you’ve no doubt already heard. They even take the time to come up with special names/jobs for each member of the team, though these special skills are never entirely put to use.
The most notable thing about the cast is the inclusion of The Rock as Hobbs, a federal agent who drives something that looks like the armored bus from Mystery Men. He fits very well into the Fast and Furious setting with his over-the-top machismo, and the fight between him and Diesel very much delivers.
Even if you don’t know the franchise well, Fast Five can still provide a pre-summer action experience that hasn’t really happened since maybe the first Iron Man. It’s funny, stupid, ridiculous, and just plain fun. I haven’t been to the theaters since Iron Man 2, and this was the perfect film to return with. In a season filled with comic book movies and the boring push by Marvel to get the Avengers on screen, I’m glad there’s an action movie like Fast Five to keep us sane.