Furiouser and furiouser
The old-school car action that attracts us to “Fast Five” appears CGI-free, although logic dictates these landscapes are cluttered with the instruments of illusion. It’s great fun, but is it great filmmaking? Nah. Do its fans care? Double nah. Worldwide, the film rang up $165 million during its opening weekend, valuing each of its sparsely placed 1,000 words at a $165,000.
The very absence of dialog means the action occurs so fast it really hauls. If this is your kind of movie you’re probably familiar with franchise-anchor Vin Diesel (pulling double-duty here as producer). He doesn’t need much acting ability because thigh-sized biceps and purring in a velvet baritone, are the important job qualifications – assets he has in abundance.
Dom Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) best friend, former cop Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), in love with Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), teams with her to bust Dom out of prison. The trio escape to Brazil where they sign on to a heist requiring drivers able to make fast cars do amazing things. After local crimelord Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida) double-crosses the three and leaves them to take the fall, they decide to get both revenge and enough money to retire, in one fell swoop.
The botched job bears Dom’s signature, alerting the FBI to their whereabouts. This plot device is necessary to introduce FBI Agent Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), whose taskforce arrives in Brazil with Dom in its crosshairs.
The film provides its thrills by bashing fast cars into police vehicles, buses, trains, banks, and of course, other fast cars, but a heart-stopping foot chase occurs in Rio’s hillside shantytown. Narrow, twisting alleys – pitched at steep angles – are a breathtaking location for a game of cat and mouse. You can sense the chase careening toward a match-up between heavily muscled Hobbs and Dom. So when it finally happens, those familiar with macho-centric tales, realize there are few encounters more intimate than two Goliaths taking one another’s measure at close quarters.
To help Dom and O’Conner steal Reyes’ $100 million bankroll, cohorts from earlier films are recruited. They bring in smooth-talker Roman (Tyrese Gibson), femme fatale Gisele (Gal Gadot), electronics wiz Tej (Chris Bridges), programmer Han (Sung Kang) and a pair of comical, Spanish-speaking handymen (Tego Calderon and Don Omar).
Hobbs selects Elena (Elsa Pataky), a widowed officer, to serve as his Brazilian boots-on-the-ground. Her file indicates she can’t be bought. We soon see that Elena and Dom belong together, since both operate according to a moral code above that of the law. The bad guy, who’s actually a good guy, is a hero withstanding the test of time. If his fast cars leave a trail of cops eating his dust, so much the better.