Review: Fast Five (2011)

Directed by Justin Lin, Fast Five is the fifth instalment in the globally successful Fast & Furious franchise, and stars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson and Jordana Brewster.

Former cop Brian O’Conner (Walker) partners with ex-con Dom Toretto (Diesel) from the opposite side of the law. Ever since Brian and Mia Toretto (Brewster) broke Dom out of custody, they’ve blown across borders to elude authorities. Now backed into a corner in Rio de Janeiro, they must pull one last job in order to gain their freedom.

As they assemble their elite team of top racers, the unlikely allies know their only shot of getting out for good means confronting the corrupt businessman who wants them dead. But he’s not the only one on their tail. Hard-nosed federal agent Luke Hobbs (Johnson) never misses his target.

When he is assigned to track down Dom and Brian, he and his strike team launch an all-out assault to capture them. But as his men tear through Brazil, Hobbs learns he can’t separate the good guys from the bad. Now, he must rely on his instincts to corner his prey… before someone else runs them down first.

The plot – while obviously simple, heavily flawed, and packed full of ludicrously clichéd dialogue – has a certain charm that helps every moment of inept absurdity slide and encourages you to lose yourself in the dumb action.

Kudos goes to Lin, who directs with passion. Despite his tendency to blurriness in action sequences, the stunts are practical and realistic while being viscerally powerful and hugely entertaining. The car scenes, in particular, are shot with a superb attention-to-detail. He clearly knows his crowd, and has tailor made the film to appeal squarely to them.

As far as performances go, it’s an entirely mixed bag. Diesel is solid as Dom, and Johnson is a welcome addition as the heavily aggressive yet darkly humorous Hobbs. Meanwhile, Walker feels out of place, like his character’s been worn too thin, and while the inclusion of past characters is welcome – helping you to ignore the gaping plot holes – they simply don’t have enough screen time to be anymore than that.

Fast Five is, for long-standing fans of the Fast & Furious franchise and action lovers, simply an unabashed popcorn entertainment flick. For those adverse to the genre, however, it’s pretty non-descript.

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