Posted: 05/06/2011


Fast Five

by Del Harvey

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Like fast cars, super skinny girls and muscle-bound guys, and fast, hard-hitting action? You’ve come to the right place. The Fast and Furious crowd are back for more, and here is everything you want to know: they deliver.

For fans of the series, you already know the bonus in this version: the addition of former wrestling superstar Dwayne Johnson as a relentless federal agent who goes mano-a-mano with Vin Diesel’s driving ace/gang leader Dom Toretto, who is once again on the run along with his sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster), and cop-turned-outlaw Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker).

In the opening scenes our super-sonic anti-heroes are double-crossed by some shady partners-in-crime. Now at the top of the Most Wanted list, they leave the country, landing in Rio. They soon find that money is necessary even in economically-challenged Brazil. So they try to pull a job. Only they run up against the FBI’s toughest manhunter Johnson and his crew.

I could tell you what happens but, you’d be better off watching for yourself.

I have to admit I am not a fan of this series. The first one was okay, and the other sequels all felt paint-by-numbers… but this one goes back to the tried-and-true action formula of hundreds of past films, and succeeds just because of that. The real difference is in the director’s visual storytelling. Justin Lin, who has directed at least two other films in the series, immerses himself into the story and characters this time and the result is a cohesive and entertaining film that satisfies.

Let’s be honest, we aren’t watching The King’s Speech or Ghost Writer - this is all action stuff. It punches, it smashes, it kicks and screeches. And it does all of these things well. The important difference from all of those tepid knock-offs is that the director works with the actors to craft a story. Something which goes beyond the inserts and close-ups of gear shifting and gnashed teeth, of slitted, steely eyes and screaming rubber. Something which is human, something everyone in the audience can relate to.

Yeah, it’s worth seeing. Fast Five kicks off the summer extravaganza of film-going with a bang. Check it out.

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.

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