Fast & Furious 5 Review
With the last instalment making almost $350m worldwide, it’s little surprise that we now find ourselves with the fifth outing for the Fast & Furious series. Following on immediately from the end of the last film, Fast & Furious 5 (or Fast Five as it was originally known, and still is according to the title card in our screening) sees former FBI agent Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) breaking Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) out of custody – specifically a prison transport coach – with the help of Toretto’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster). Soon enough, they find themselves under the watchful eye of both Rio crime lord Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida) and Federal Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) while they go about pulling off ‘one last job’ to get their freedom.
But this is a Fast & Furious movie, so who really cares about the plot? All we want to know is whether it delivers in the high-octane action that even the series low-point Tokyo Drift provided – and it undoubtedly does. The car chases that bookend the film are among the most ludicrous and entertaining ones of the series, with the sheer destruction caused in the finale having to be seen to be believed. Granted they are complete nonsense and the sight of O’Conner and Toretto leaping off a car from a bridge is likely to induce eye-rolling sniggers, but there’s no doubt they achieve what they set out to: to deliver high-energy, action-packed thrills.
The main problem with Fast & Furious 5 is – and we can’t believe we’re saying this – that there is not enough car chase action. Instead the film focuses on the central heist as the reunited gang (main players from all four instalments return) plan to rob Reyes of his $100m fortune. It’s not that the planning scenes completely stall the film, it’s just that they invite comparisons to other heist flicks and unfortunately it’s more of an Ocean’s Twelve than an Ocean’s Eleven. Thankfully a suitably bruising encounter between Toretto and Hobbs brings the film back on track and from then on, it’s all-action until the end.
Your enjoyment of the film will depend on your tolerance for clichés and some pretty ropey acting though. Vin Diesel certainly fits the physique of his character but it’ll become a dangerous drinking game if you took a shot every time he attempted something deep and meaningful without any semblance of emotion; Paul Walker also remains the charisma vacuum that he seems to always have a knack of being, not helped by the fact that Dwayne Johnson just oozes it as Hobbs, stealing every scene he’s in as a result as he’s pretty much the only one of the ‘main’ stars that manages to nail the film’s tone – everyone else just seems to be taking things a touch too seriously.
Talking of drinking games, you’d be paralytic by the end of the first scene if the shot rule applied to clichés but that’s part of the film’s charm. One moment in particular towards the end that involves a character’s allegiances switching is corny in the extreme, but a complete crowd pleaser that will have you grinning dementedly. The heavy-handed emotional scenes are particularly cringeworthy as well but there is one particular moment early on that references events of the last film which is surprisingly effective.
Still all this serious film talk will be irrelevant to the Friday night crowd that will flock in their droves to see Fast & Furious 5 when it opens this week. Its combination of sexy women and full-throttle action hasn’t failed the series yet and this film just takes the same blueprint and does its hardest to top all the previous instalments combined. Delivering fast, furious, surprisingly brutal (but not graphic) action with a generous helping of cheese, it’s a film best enjoyed by putting your brain into neutral and just going along for the ride.