THE FUN AND THE FRIVOLOUS
Review by Dave Herbelin
After watching “Fast Five”, I realized it would become a quick classic you’ll turn on while cleaning the living room or doing taxes. The action sequences force you to suspend just enough belief without becoming ridiculous, and the story isn’t so complicated you need to pay deep attention.
I chose “Fast Five” as this week’s movie review simply because I didn’t want to watch “Hoodwinked Too!: Hood vs Evil”. I don’t think anyone can blame me. How “Hoodwinked Too!” got a green light for production makes me wonder if “Pluto Nash 2: Pluto vs Plato” or “WaterWorld 2: Still Sucking” will be in production anytime soon. Yup, that movie is probably as unfunny as my witty movie titles.
I had only seen the first “Fast and Furious” and so I wasn’t sure if I would be confused for most of this movie’s plot. However, I can safely say this movie stands on its own. Sure, there are moments you realize are supposed to be special for those fans who are in the know of all the films; such as the “we’re getting the band back together” montage where they assemble their team of professional crooks. But the scenes are done in such a way that even as an outsider, you appreciate them. The back story of the whole film is presented in such a way that it catches up those who have been away, yet doesn’t bore those that have been faithful followers. You get the idea there is history, then you move onto the plot.
The direction by Justin Lin manages to capture instant caring and understanding of each character. From the moment the movie starts, you feel for the leads, and you cheer for them. This is something many directors miss. Yet in this film it is achieved without beating the audience over the head with “this is the good guy, love him. This is the bad guy: See, he just squashed a baby” moments. Which is amazing considering every character in this film has a tragic flaw. It’s done subtly enough… Okay maybe the part where the wall of a train is ripped off and Vin Diesel is revealed in holy white light wearing a cross on his neck might be a little over the top. But, it only lasts a second. One heavenly, divine, biblical second. And so it was good. Wow! Some may read that and think I’m gay instead of realizing the ironic humor. Trust me, I don’t think Vin Diesel is cute.
Paul Walker on the other hand…. I have wondered since the first movie why this guy isn’t in more movies. He has Brad Pitt style, without pretentiousness. He maintains a great sense of being outside his criminal group even after five movies of being thrust in the middle of them. His character, his complex emotions, and his tough decscions are played well throughout the film.
There were some odd moments. While it was a good match to see Vin Diesel vs Dwayne Johnson, I kept thinking that I was watching The Pacifier fight The Tooth Fairy. Which doesn’t say much against this film as much as it says against these two actors and their choices in scripts. Also the fight sequences were filmed too close with too many quick cuts. When you see sequences filmed in such a way it’s usually a red flag signifying, “Hey, these guys don’t know what they are doing, but if we blur the actions quickly, we can pass it by you”. There was, what was suppose to be a heart warming insightful scene between Vin Diesel and the lady cop, Elsa Pataky. But the whole time it was being played, I thought to myself, “Please direct this like Keanu Reeves in ‘Speed’: few words, few shots.” In the final action sequence, over twenty-five police officers are rammed off the road in graphic, violent accidents. Yet you are expected to just write them off as necessary casualties to the worthy cause of the heores. Even though the last shot shows a corpse of an officer hanging out of the window of a clearly fatally smashed car, you’re expected to smile and wish your best to the victors.
All that aside, it was what it aimed to be. It was a fun ride adding to a successful franchise. Once this movie hits DVD or syndication you’ll find yourself turning it on for a quick distraction while you accomplish more important tasks. For mindless fun, this is a hit.
Caution! After this movie and all its stunts you may be inspired. However, do not attempt to wear a tshirt that’s too small for you. These actors are trained body builders and will undoubtedly look better than you. No one wants to see your man nipples or lady gut.
Directed by: Justin Lin
Release Date: April 29, 2011
Run Time: 130 Minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures