Saturday 14 May 2011

Movie Review: Fast Five

Action, horsepower, things blowing up, fighting, and guns a blazing. This ain't no chick flick. Vin Diesel is back and he's back with a vengeance. Of course, with a name like that - never mind the name of the character he plays - who could expect anything less?

I have to confess. I saw the original "The Fast and the Furious" and thought it was a just okay testosterone charged guy flick with cars. You knew exactly what you were in for and this wasn't going to win an Oscar. Based on that, I went and saw number two on an afternoon when I didn't have anything to do and found it to be so lame, I walked out. When is nothing better than something?

Based on Rotten Tomatoes, here's the franchise broken down by rating:

The Fast and the Furious = 52%
2 Fast 2 Furious = 36%
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift = 35%
Fast & Furious = 27%
Fast Five = 79%

Wow. This movie isn't just the highest rated of the series; it has a rating which would indicate the film is actually worthwhile. Imagine that.

The plot - no spoiler alert - takes place in Brazil, in the city of Rio de Janeiro and while everybody may be thinking Spanish, I remind you that Portuguese is the official language of this country. By the way, Brazil was colonized, obviously, by Portugal and now, Brazil is the most populous Portuguese speaking country in the world: Portugal = 10.6 million; Brazil = 190 million. Go figure.

The early films focused on car racing, but this film is supposedly moving the series in a new direction, that is, to be an action series. I see this is supposed to be aiming at a wider audience which seems like a good idea. After all, how many car races can you film and still get your audience coming back to see more?

The stunts are sometimes outlandish, sometimes, well, sort of real, but that's why we go to the movies in the first place, isn't it? The suspension of belief. And yes, there is some suspending of belief in this flick, no doubt about it. I won't spoil the fun, but blowing up the toilets was funny.

I see that the film's budget was $125 million and with a current gross of $363 million, this movie has turned out to be an excellent investment. It is certainly making a buck. By the way, it would be interesting to discover just what in the film was a special effect and what was real. A lot of vehicles get damaged and I wonder just how many got totalled. Below you will find a featurette on how they filmed the train robbery and there you will find out the train and the vehicles were real; no special effects there. That's where part of the $125 million went.

Ending Credits
I always sit through the credits. It is interesting to see the entire cast list and who else may have worked on the production behind the scenes. But, there is more compelling reason to sit through the credits. More and more films are adding various tidbits to the credits. These could be outtakes from the film, alternate scenes, recaps of various plot lines, or - and this is important - give some sort of teaser about what else may be coming up.

When I saw the film, people got up and left as soon as the credits started then a minute or two into them, we had a short scene which gave a clue about the next Fast and Furious. Sure enough, in researching the film, I discovered that yes, film #5 was made with the intention of doing a number six. That clue also included a photo of Michelle Rodriguez who appeared in the original film and in number four of the series, but was absent from this film. And considering the scene also involved Dwayne Johnson, I read that he too will probably be back for film #6. Oh, this scene also involves an uncredited appearance by Eva Mendes as U.S. Customs agent Monica Fuentes. That unto itself makes it worth sitting through all the credits.

Trivia: The name Vin Diesel
According to the Wikipedia article on Vin Diesel, this is how Mark Sinclair Vincent wound up with his name:

In an interview on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, he said that he changed his name to "Vin Diesel" while working as a bouncer at the New York City nightclub Tunnel, because in that business one's real name is not usually given out. The name "Vin" is simply a shortened version of "Vincent". He received the nickname "Diesel" from his friends who said he ran off diesel, referring to his non-stop energy.

Trailer #1

Trailer #2

Featurette: Train Heist

Final Word
This isn't the Bard. This isn't Oscar material. In fact, I don't see this in the top ten best films of 2011. Nevertheless, it fits the bill for an action thrill ride for anybody who wants to idle away some time and not walk out of the theatre feeling they had been cheated out of the price of admission. I enjoyed the stunts, even those on foot running across the roof tops in Rio. I remind the reader of how much faith I put in the Rotten Tomatoes score and with the film coming in with 79%, you can be assured you're getting your money's worth. Don't forget to see it in IMAX if you can. I opted for a normal screen and that was good, but I like to choose IMAX if I can.

So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. Oh yeah, don't forgot for obey the warning that appears in the credits. All stunts were performed by professionals in a controlled environment. For heaven's sake don't drive home from the movie theatre like that. Ha!


Rotten Tomatoes: Fast Five: 79%

Wikipedia: Fast Five
Fast Five (alternatively known as Fast & Furious 5 or Fast & Furious 5: Rio Heist) is a 2011 action film written by Chris Morgan and directed by Justin Lin. The film stars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and Dwayne Johnson and was first released in Australia on April 20, 2011 followed by a United States release on April 29, 2011 as the fifth film in the The Fast and the Furious franchise.

official web site: Fast Five
[A number of things for the fans: videos (natch), downloads (wallpapers, Twitter skins), photo gallery, a game called "Rio Takeover", etc., etc.]

Wikipedia: The Fast and the Furious (film series)
The Fast and the Furious film series is a action film which focuses on street racing, and heists. Produced by Universal Studios, the series was established in 2001 with eponymous first installment, which has since been followed by four sequels, and two short films that tie into the series.


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