Sunday, May 8, 2011

#116: Fast Five

It was always about racy sleek cars and some bravado around it. Vin Diesel played the protagonist and came up trumps most times. It had luscious women swooning around beefy men and the guy who trumped in the end was always the guy who raced quickest in a fancy automobile.

The above would broadly summarize all the previous films in the series. If the producers of The Fast and the Furious franchise were coming up with a fifth one, they had to make it inventive and thank heavens they did. Fast and the Furious 5: Rio Heist released in April 2011 is indeed very different from any of the previous movies in the series and features a heist of $100mn as it's centerpiece. So those luscious women are still around but they're not having their skirts lifted by engine horsepower that passes them by. Neither are they taking off their tops and making out with guys on the road. Instead, Mia (Jordana Brewester) is pregnant with her child from O'Connor (Paul Walker). And her brother Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) is hopeful of securing the family's future by undertaking a daring heist on Rio's #1 ganglord Reyes (Joachim Almeida). Meanwhile Special Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is on Dom's trail to put him behind bars.

The movie takes quite sometime to arrive at the heist and the first half trudges on with some really dull moments. A car robbery from the train is the highlight in this half that also gets sappy at times. By the time Dom assembles a team to pull off the heist, you're almost beginning to wonder if this is going to get anywhere. Thankfully, the second half doesn't disappoint one bit. As the planning for the final job gets underway, different characters from Dom's team start bringing in their charm to the movie lending both comic and visual relief from the worn down couple of Mia and O'Connor. The story preps itself for a three way showdown between Dom, Hobbs and Reyes and the climax delivers unerringly with a jaw-dropping execution of the plan. Vin is still the star in the movie and his team of assembled experts give the movie the much needed momentum in the second half. As an escaped convict, his tenacity is infuriating for Hobbs but Dwayne Johnson does little else apart from looking the part. His inspid acting, however, does little to take away from a denouement that's reminiscent of the Ocean's Eleven heist.

Universal Studios know they've a money-spinner in this franchise and they're out there to exploit it. The heartening thing about Fast Five is that the writers and the director could've taken the easy way out with yet another story with racing as the plot but they didn't. Director Justin Lin and writer Chris Morgan do exceptionally well in making this version easily the best of the series. Notwithstanding some logic-defying action sequences, it is guaranteed to bring you to the edge of your seat. I can't say it's an unmissable action flick but it does come close to being one.

Rating: 6.7/10