HBO’s big new premiere this weekend was 2011’s “Fast Five”, the fifth installment in “The Fast and the Furious” franchise.
“Fast Five” returns all the major players – Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster – plus returns several familiar faces from prior chapters such as Tyrese Gibson, Gal Gadot, Sung Kang, and Ludacris. This time, though, they up the ante by adding Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to the mix.
But even though they assembled a “Fast and Furious” dream team, can they recapture the high-octane magic of previous outings?
“Fast Five” puts Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner and Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto on the run again, this time down in Rio de Janeiro. After busting Dom out of a prison transport bus, O’Conner, Mia and Dom find themselves south of the border. When a car heist (from a speeding train ) goes sour, the two leads are forced to determine why. What they learn is that the car theft was actually a mission to recover the financial data of a crime cartel, contained in a computer in one of the cars.
They have no time to act on the realization prior to the arrival of The Rock’s Agent Hobbs and his team of
bodybuilders special agents. Hobbs is a brutish, urban-tank driving special agent and leader of an elite task force. Once his team is called in to investigate the train robbery, he latches on to O’Conner and Dom and begins to track them with a relentless zeal. He’s “Old Testament. Blood, bullets, wrath of God, that’s his style.”
Even though O’Conner, Dom and Mia have Hobbs and his team on their trail, they also have the cartel data detailing the location of millions of dollars. They put a plan in motion to heist every dollar that’s listed. First they put out the call to all the past team members they can. Once the crew is assembled, they brazenly hit one location, which tricks the cartel into consolidating all their cash into a single, heavily secured location. The fact that it happens to be a police station doesn’t slow the “Furious” gang down at all.
The heist is on.
“Fast Five” continues the franchise’s proud tradition of ludicrous high-speed chases, ridiculous action sequences, and deliciously bad acting. In addition to the typical dosage of souped up speeding, they amp up the shootout quotient by 200%. To its credit, the movie features slick camera work, great pacing, and a propulsive soundtrack. But most of all, it’s cheesey fun, and they know exactly how to serve up what the fans want. Adding the Rock to this franchise was an inspired touch of brilliance, and the fist-fight between him and Vin Diesel is easily one of the best movie fights ever.
When it was released last year, “Fast Five” broke the box office record for the highest-grossing April opening weekend, and surpassed “Fast & Furious” to become the highest-grossing film in the franchise. It’s grossed over $625 million worldwide. To the shock of no one, a sequel has already been announced.
That’s fine with me. I’m in.