Universal // 2011 // 132 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 3rd, 2011
Fifth one's the charm!
The sequels keep rolling in for The Fast and The Furious franchise, and -- surprisingly -- have defied the odds in getting better as they've advanced in numerical order. Fast Five might just be the best of the series.
When we last left our petrolhead heroes, former FBI agent Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker, Running Scared) was in the process of going over to the dark side, springing his BFF and racing rival Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel, xXx) from prison. Sick of running and looking over their shoulder, the two reunite in Rio and hatch a daring plan to steal $100 million from the city's biggest ganglord.
Standing in their way: badass federal agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson, The Rundown) and the city's entire corrupt police force. Fortunately, it's written into Vin Diesel's contract that he's completely indestructible, so they've got that going for them.
I think Vin might be our current Steven Seagal, at least when it involves his Dom Toretto role. They guy cannot be defeated by anyone, even if it's a hulking brute (like The Rock) with biceps the size of recycling bins. This traces back to the original The Fast and the Furious and has continued unabated into this installment; the man is immortal! As such, Dom is easily the most boring guy in the film, with even the legendarily stoic Paul Walker out-maneuvering him in characterization.
So, yeah, Fast Five won't surprise you. You know who's going to make it, who's going to switch allegiances, and you'll probably even nail the big twist at the end.
No matter how many familiar story conventions director Justin Lin utilizes, he has secured my everlasting respect for what he's done here; namely, craft some killer action scenes without the crutch of CGI. God bless you, sir! In an age of overdone computer generated visual effects, to see a director and his talented crew bring their bombastic vision to the screen using primarily old-fashioned elbow grease and movie magic is as refreshing as gulping in a tailpipe of primo Dodge Charger turbocharged exhaust.
The joys of Lin's decision are no more evident than in the finale, a thirty minute car chase through the streets of Rio (really, Puerto Rico). You've scene glimpses of the sequence in the trailer -- it features two cars pulling a vault -- but the full glory of the carnage is something to behold. Buildings are destroyed, cars are shredded, and landmarks are decimated. It easily gets my nod for "action scene of the year," and this alone makes Fast Five worthy of your time.
Thankfully, the rest of the film is entertaining. With the "illicit street racing" hook jettisoned, these Fast and Furious movies have become straight-arrow action spectacles. Fast Five earns a more distinct categorization as a heist film. It's less humorous and cerebral than something like Ocean's Eleven, but what it lacks is high-gloss star-power and nauseating self-aggrandizing, it more than makes up for in punching.
A nicely-tuned Blu-ray awaits, pumping out a solid 2.35:1/1080p transfer; a high-definition offering that delivers exactly what's needed for this film -- a steady hand and top-line clarity to transmit the ridiculous amount of chaos Lin pins to the screen. Everything looks great and the exotic setting serves up plenty of eye candy. Lin shoots his action masterfully, allowing his cameras to capture the mayhem and the HD treatment pushes it out well. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is more than suitable for executing the aural destruction, with surrounds getting large-scale workouts and the LFE mix absolutely pounding in some places. As has been the case with all these films, the sound and the fury are top-shelf exhibits for your A/V rig. Extras are featurette-rich with mini-documentaries on the opening train heist scene, the cast, the cars, the epic fight scene between Dom and Hobbs, the vault chase and looks at the characters of Dom, Hobbs and Brian. Rounding out the set: a gag reel, deleted scenes, on-set footage with Justin Lin and Tyrese Gibson, and a director's commentary.
An unrated extended edition is also available, but it's literally one minute longer than the theatrical cut. Please.
Bigger, louder, and more fun than any franchise installment that preceded it, Fast Five represents some righteous popcorn blockbuster tomfoolery. Crank every dial on your audio receiver to the max and really have some fun.
Not Guilty. See you all in Fa6t and Fu6iou6.
Review content copyright © 2011 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (French)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English, Descriptive)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 132 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Theatrical Version
* Deleted Scenes
* Gag Reel
* Second Screen
* Pocket Blu
* DVD Copy