Thursday, 21 April 2011



This is the second franchise entry this week to try and sport a quirky non-sequential title. But while the Scream series has thus far been very simple and sensible up to the absurdly styled Scre4m (see, it doesn't work in lower case), the Fast And Furious movies have never adhered to the good old-fashioned 1, 2, 3. First there was The Fast And The Furious, then 2 Fast 2 Furious, followed by The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift and Fast And Furious. Now this, which was going to be The Fast And The Furious 5: Rio Heist, presumably until someone decided that looked too boring and renamed it Fast Five. Could have been worse, of course: it could have been 5ast or something equally dumbass, and the betting is open for what unholy alphanumeric idiocy they'll use for the next one.

The first two were pretty empty affairs consisting exclusively of absurdly fast cars screeching through city centres in the middle of the night in illegal street races; the third one radically changed the formula by dumping all the established characters, and having a sullen teen relocate to Tokyo and get involved with absurdly fast cars screeching around mountain roads in illegal street races. Number four was a bit of an improvement: tougher and slightly more violent and reuniting some of the key members of the series cast. But none of the four was honestly much more than tolerable crash-bang-wallop in which ridiculously modified cars performed impossible stunts and hurtled around like guided missiles to a thudding soundtrack while hot babes in bikinis stood on the sidelines whooping.

Fast Five isn't significantly better, though at two hours ten it is the longest, and reunites most of the key players from the earlier films. Vin Diesel (1, 4, and a cameo in 3) is sprung from his jail transport by his sister Jordana Brewster (1, 4) and former cop Paul Walker (1, 2, 4), to do a daring job in Brazil removing some highly valuable cars from a train. But the cars belong to crime lord Joaquim De Almeida, containing information about his hundred million dollar cash hoard, which they promptly decide to seize for themselves. So they get the band back together: Tyrese Gibson (2), Chris Ludacris Bridges (2), Sung Kang (3, 4) for a ridiculous and massively destructive robbery. Except dedicated federal agent Dwayne Johnson is on their trail and doesn't care whether they're innocent or guilty....

It's a beltingly stupid film, in which the final chase sequence showcases so much property damage and vehicles smashing into each other at high speed that you do wonder about all the innocent shoppers and passers-by put in harm's way in such a cavalier fashion by the nominal heroes of the movie, in a Wanted kind of a way (where there's a packed train coming off the rails and plunging off the side of a mountain and nobody gives a toss about anyone except the mass-murdering halfwit in the lead role). It's also a film so soaked in testosterone that you can smell it over the petrol and sweat even in the fifth row. If you want a movie in which angry, ugly balls of machismo snarl and bellow and beat each other round the head with socket wrenches, fire guns at one another and smash up dozens of cars: well, it isn't exactly The King's Speech we're looking at.

It's stupid, but it is mindless thumping popcorn entertainment and it knows it. Vin Diesel and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson probably know they're never going to make it as romantic or comedic leads, and their natural home is toughnut action pictures (Dwayne's coming to this from Faster, and Vin's next film is apparently XXX 3!). Stay till the end credits start to scroll up as there's an extra bit that shamelessly sets up yet another sequel by potentially dragging two more characters from past instalments back into the skidmark-strewn mayhem.


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