I have to admit that Fast Five is only the second The Fast and The Furious movie I’ve seen and the other was The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, which I understand isn’t considered canon. Wikipedia tells me that Fast Five is the best critically received one of the bunch, so perhaps it’s alright that it remains my first, and with any luck, only foray into the Vin Diesel, Paul Walker drivathons. I can say that one doesn’t need to have seen to any of the others to understand Fast Five and that one doesn’t need a frontal lobe to enjoy it, in fact, it’s probably preferable not to have one. There are a handful of references to past events and previous characters but I was able to keep up with the plot to steal $100 million from a Rio gangster.
When the picture opens we see that Dominic (Diesel), car thief extraordinaire, is on a prison bus, heading towards a lengthy term and his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and his pal O’Connor (Walker) are there to bust him out. Once reunited they plan to rob a train carrying expensive cars and when things go bad and some cops get shot, Dom and O’Connor catch the rap when really it was the villainous Reyes’ men. So to get back at Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida) they decide to take him off his $100 mil. As alleged cop killers, they’re pursued by federal agents, led by Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and other similar individuals with large arms. O’Connor and Dominic assemble a crack team that includes Fast and Furious alums like Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Sung Kang and others and they plan the heist. What they need the money for is unexplained as they seem to have unlimited resources to buy electronic devices, dummy vaults, and a warehouse to plan it all. Meanwhile, agent Hobbs is hot on their tail and gets to bark cop lines like “If he goes to the bathroom, I want to know how many times he shakes it.”
This is a Rio that does not exist. More that 12 million people live there, but our heroes are able to drag race each other at night on empty streets and later drag a huge vault by cables attached to the back of their cars at high speeds through downtown. Never mind the weight of the safe being so easily dragged around, there’s more traffic in Mayberry than there is in Fast Five’s Rio.
But let’s get to what’s right with Fast Five, which is not insignificant. The driving and stunts are fairly masterful, a lot of fun, and don’t really stop from the word go to the cameo-filled, set-up-the-next-one scene midway through the credits. As for what’s wrong: it’s all preposterous, makes no sense, spends no time on characterization, casts two sets of people that look similar and then has them dress alike and fight with each other or have important roles in the heist where it would help to be sure who we were looking at, has a view on the law that is vaguely fascist, and no view on the law of physics at all. Most of those are minor complaints in a movie like this and even when taken together, they’re not enough to sink Fast Five. Oh, they prevent it from becoming anything I’d want to do again or something that I’ll be able to recall having done three months from now, but, like a baby knocking together plastic cups, Fast Five simply wants to have a little fun and make a lot of noise.