We Talkin’ or We Racin’?
Today’s movie was not so much of a review request, but a viewing request from my roommate Richard. He watched the movie yesterday and liked it so much that I had to watch it ASAP, and he liked it so much that he would watch it with me the day after watching it himself. I, however, was very skeptical. This movie is the 5th in a series of movies I’ve either hated or had no interest in whatsoever. But we all know that I’ll watch anything, and this movie was at least a big budget movie unlike other crap I’ve watched. So let’s see how this turned out. Today’s review is of Fast Five, written by Chris Morgan, directed by Justin Lin, and starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Joaquim de Almeida, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Matt Schulze, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Tego Calderon, Don Omar, Elsa Pataky, and Geoff Meed.
Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) and her boyfriend Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) break Mia’s brother, Dom (Vin Diesel), out of a bus taking him to jail. They go to Rio de Janeiro, get hunted by DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), run afoul of crime lord Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), and plan a heist to take all of Reyes’ money. They set up a team with Han Seoul-Oh (Sung Kang), Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Ludacris), Gisele Yashar (Gal Gadot), Tego Leo (Tego Calderon), and Rico Santos (Don Omar) to accomplish the task of taking $100 million dollars from Reyes. But fuck all that “story” nonsense! Let’s smash cars with a safe!
I’m perfectly comfortable admitting the fact that I have little to no interest in cars and am a fairly poor excuse for a man. What I do tend to appreciate (possibly more than I should) is a big, dumb action movie. And that is the reason why Fast Five gets a “check it out” from me. That sounds like I’m ending the review. NAY! Just getting started. The story is a little dumb and filled with plot holes, but the action scenes are so absurd and awesome that I could not help but like this thing. Let’s take our good news first and talk about the action. This movie jumps immediately into it when 3 cars have to pull off a precision maneuver to flip over the bus that has Vin Diesel on it. They succeed, although I’m pretty sure he was the only person to survive it. Then there’s some story, then there’s a big fight scene on a train. It was pretty cool how they were getting the vehicles off of the train in the first place, and that immediately preceded a pretty brutal and awesome fight scene. Blah blah blah, a couple more races, and then the super climactic finale involving two cars, an improbably dragged safe, and a shit ton of safe-smashed objects. In between there was a race that confused me, though. Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, and Sung Kang had all stolen identical cop cars and decide (without any real good reason) to have a street race with each other. The pointlessness of this decision is not what gets me though. Now, I don’t know much about cars, but if you had 4 identical cars with 4 professional drivers behind the wheels, wouldn’t they all go the same speed? Get back to me on that, readers. Or don’t. I don’t really want to know. Also, since we’re talking action, even the subtitles in this movie are in a hurry. As soon as you’ve read them, they speed off the screen. They were cute at first, but they get old pretty quick.
It won’t surprise many that the story of this movie was lackluster and was full of plot holes. It’s not why you came though; you can admit that to yourself. I have. But, I’m reviewing this thing, so I at least have to type it. Let’s go in order, because that’s how I took my notes. First off, do you think anybody has ever put Rio de Janeiro in a movie without an establishing shot of that giant Jesus? Anyways, the dialogue is pretty bad and predictable here. You can see almost every punchline coming from a mile away. Not to jokes. I’m not sure there were any. But most statements are set up in joke form, with a set up and a punchline finisher. At a certain point I realized, if I tried, I could probably finish most of these people’s sentences for them. Around the middle of the movie, our team breaks in to a Reyes facility wearing masks and then they pull them off and show themselves to their captives, telling them to tell their boss what they did. If you planned this, why not just go in sans mask? They burn the money after this. The rest of the money is in 9 different locations. Reyes says to himself, “Well, since they’re after my money which is separated and difficult to get to, I think I’ll bring all of it together and put it in a safe. No one’s EVER gotten into one of those!” The Rock’s character is able to figure out who is on Vin’s team from an intersection camera, but really that would mean he and his team looked through every car that went through that intersection and, through dumb luck, stumbled on the masked team passing through it. And THEN, using technology that I’m not sure exists, used a computer to identify them using only their eyes. Is that possible? I mean, I could tell it was the Asian dude by his eyes, but only because he was the only Asian in all of Rio de Janeiro. The process of the team getting to the safe is pretty stupid as well. At first, Tyrese tries to talk his way in using a badge and ID so poorly counterfeited that it actually says he’s Caucasian. The desk guard doesn’t allow him in, but also doesn’t bother to arrest him or report the incident as suspicious. Cashiers at Best Buy have more sense. (No offense, cashiers from Best Buy) Then they let two of the team disguised as random janitors waltz right in and cut a hole in the wall to tap into the security cameras. Not only is there no background check, but no one brings up how the police managed not to notice a giant square had been cut into the wall. They didn’t have any plaster with them, so even if they replaced the slab of cement they removed, someone could have thought about that square in the wall. A lot of what they get away with in this movie depends heavily on everyone else being stupid. This camera footage leads to them spending days trying to make it through a course trying to avoid the cameras until they finally say “Fuck it, we’ll just steal cop cars.” Why not start with that idea?! Also – as I think is typical for these racing-type movies – it seems as if the writers use NOS as a deus ex machina type of thing. Like they write themselves into a corner like “People will believe 2 cars can drag a giant safe around without putting a scratch in the road, but one car? How are we going to do that? Slap some NOS in that car we haven’t seen until now!” There’s also a race in the movie when they acquire a car they never use. Why isn’t this in the action paragraph? ‘Cause they didn’t show it! They apparently thought people came to this movie for the dialogue. Not that it matters, most of the dialogue is drowned out by the action. And not that THAT matters, because the dialogue isn’t very good.
Here’s the thing that has popped into my head during any of the Fast/Furious movies that kept popping up in this movie as well: Paul Walker is the worst. The worst ever at everything. He’s got no charisma whatsoever, and every line he delivers makes it seem like he’s super bored. And that’s not just this movie, but every movie I’ve seen him in save for Running Scared. And I don’t even remember what happened in that. I just recall seeing a movie he wasn’t awful in. It’s a bit harsh, but true. Singling him out from the get-go does not let everyone else off the hook. Almost everyone in this movie did nothing to wow me. The Rock was the best actor in this movie, which isn’t a backhanded compliment. I like the Rock. I’ve never seen him really stretch his acting chops, but he is charming on screen so I’m never sad to see him. And not only is he charming, but he throws down better than most action stars. Richard and I wondered as we watched this movie how many times these people broke into laughter at the other person’s performances. Vin Diesel wasn’t bad, but he didn’t really have any charisma here. Jordana Brewster is cute, but not hot enough, and she never wore anything that caused me to even glance at her. Gal Gadot was brought in for the hotness, which she does have AND she gets into a bikini, but she borders on TOO skinny.
That is probably the most I’ve ever made fun of a movie that I actually claimed to enjoy. The plot holes are abundant, the story mediocre, and the dialogue bad and predictable. If you’re going to see Fast Five for it’s highly cerebral storyline (Thanks for the joke, Seth MacFarlane!), you’ll be disappointed … and stupid. Very stupid. We know why we watched this: the action! And it has that. The action was spread out by crappy story a little much for my taste, but the spectacular stunts are worth sitting through that. I say see this movie. You can fast forward through the talking, if you like. You won’t miss much. Fast Five gets “This shit just went from mission: impossible to mission: in-freaking-sanity” out of “This doesn’t make any sense”.
Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!
Probably my guilty pleasure of 2011. Not that it’s terrible, but no matter how boring and predictable the story is, the action is phenomenal – it’s worth watching for the final safe scene/chase alone… that must have blown all the budget.