If a movie begins like a heist movie and feels like a heist movie in the middle, you’re probably going to expect it to continue that trend all the way to its end credits. Fast Five has the first two parts, but forgets that it’s a heist movie at the end. It throws its hands up in the air, audibly screams “Screw this!” and decides that all the planning that took up so much time in its middle portion was pointless, as stealth and intelligence is too much for its tiny brain to handle.
The beginning few scenes show us how capable these characters are at pulling off a major heist. We see our group of main characters, Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul walker), Mia (Jordana Brewster) and Vince (Matt Schulze) pull off a job involving the theft of cars … except not quite. They’re betrayed, some federal officers are gunned down, and now they’re wanted everywhere around the world — not just in America. An agent from a special division (Dwayne Johnson) is brought in to hunt them down and bring them in, since killing Federal Agents is a serious crime.
The next part of the film involves Dom and Brian getting together his friends from the last four movies in order to come up with a plan to steal all the money that the drug lord of Rio de Janeiro has, and then make a break for it, disappearing forever as they do. It’s like any other heist movie. The characters are introduced, they all have a special skill that will be required for the job, and planning/practice has to take place so that the job will be done without hitches. Now all that needs to be done is the job itself.
That is where Fast Five comes unglued, as the actual “heist” part of our heist film never really comes to fruition. Oh, the job gets started and maybe even finished (I don’t want to spoil more than I already have) but it’s not at all according to plan and the earlier sections of the movie felt like a waste of time as a result. It all works in terms of the story, but in terms of actually filling up our plate with substance that doesn’t dissolve after a few minutes, the film falls short.
It’s like if I were to promise you an elaborate tournament in your sport of choice, and the winner gets a nice, new, shiny penny. The tournament has a complex set of rules, tie-breakers, and all that good stuff. Then, on the day you show up for the first day, all the rules have been scrapped, and you’re left facing the kid who has never played the sport of choice. All that planning and effort you spent studying the tournament outline and all the practice you put into the sport has been pointless. That’s how I felt watching Fast Five. Oh, and it’s also way too long, although doesn’t that go without saying for a Fast and Furious movie that’s 130 minutes in length?
However, it’s still enjoyable; it’s just without purpose or reason for most of the time. I still had fun watching these people get ready to perform their heist, and I liked seeing the interactions of the characters from all the different Fast and the Furious films. This is like the All-star cast, save for a couple of notable absences — which are actually rectified in the post-credits scene, so watch through the credits if you want the full experience.
Perhaps most surprising about Fast Five is that it’s even more of a generic action movie than its predecessor, which in turn was more generic than the first three flicks. That one replaced a few car chases with gunfights, which I thought was a welcome addition. Here, even more of the chases get replaced, this time with fistfights. We actually get more shootouts and fistfights than races, which is a departure from what made the series successful but is helping to keep things fresh.
There are only two really thrilling scenes in Fast Five, which is fewer than in previous films. I was actually okay with this at the time, mainly because I was hoping it would lead up to a satisfactory heist, but looking back, I’m disappointed. Disappointed by the lack of creativity in all but one of the scenes. Disappointed by the lack of a clever heist. But not at all disappointed by the final action sequence, which is better than probably any other you’ll see from a film in Summer 2011.
I think that the inclusion of Dwayne Johnson was smart casting, as he’s charismatic and an intimidating presence, making him a perfect villain — even though he’s just doing his job and isn’t really a bad guy. Diesel continues to be the best thing about the franchise; his character has the most depth and he really sells the role. Walker is once again uninspired, and the rest of the cast, despite being given ample time to shine, do little more than show up and blend in.
Fast Five pulls a nasty bait-and-switch which renders a large portion of its running time redundant. I was saddened by this, as it made me feel like I had wasted my time watching it. Don’t get me wrong, as it’s intermittently fun and the last action sequence alone almost justifies a watch, but I just wish it would have went in a different direction. It’s a generic action film with characters you’ve seen on and off for four previous iterations. If that appeals to you, then go for it, as you’ll probably have fun.