May 16, 2011

[Movies] Fast Five (2011)

Fast Five (2011)While I've always been big on the Transformers my love for robots never quite extended into a love for all machines in general. I can appreciate the ridiculous complexities of Rube Goldberg types of mechanical wonders but I never appreciated plain old cars. I loved my Transformers figures but I wasn't too keen on receiving Matchbox cars as gifts. The list goes on and on.

Sure, in my adulthood I have a practical respect for the value of automobiles as a means of getting around. However I never quite understood how people can talk about cars for hours and hours and how they constantly want to tinker with their engines, replace certain parts and essentially treat it like some sort of complex LEGO figure. Okay, maybe I can appreciate the sort of geeking out on a fundamental level, but the nuances of experimenting with cars is just beyond me.

So I never really got into this particular movie franchise for one reason or another. The whole muscle car and illegal racing scene just never really interested me. But the reviews for this particular movie were surprisingly good and I didn't quite feel the urge to watch the new 3D Priest movie. And so my partner and I ended up catching this movie - and I for one was pleasantly surprised with the results.

Fast Five is the fifth installment in the Fast ahd the Furious movie franchise. The creative team of writer Chris Morgan and director Justin Lin had previously collaborated to create the last two installments prior to this one and are reported to be already committed to a sequel for this movie.

The movie begins with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) being sent to prison for past crimes. But his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and former Federal Marshall and now friend Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker) stage a daring escape and manage to liberate Dom and exit the country. They then show up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where they reconnect with an old friend, Vince (Matt Schulze).

Matt covinces Mia and Brian to help with a job to steal some cars from a train. During the heist itself, Brian realizes that the cars were previously seized by the DEA, making him suspicious of the whole transaction. As they start unloading the cars from the train, Dom also joins the crew and realizes that the people that they're working with are particularly interested in a particular car. He has Mia take the car while he and Brian escape the other criminals.

Thus the movie now has the trio dealing with two main forces. The criminals turn out to be working for Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), who is the biggest drug lord in the country who remains untouchable. At the same time, they get framed for the murders of the DEA agents on the train, thus forcing the US Government to send in some major agents to apprehend them. The DSS team turns out to be led by Luke Hobbes (Dwayne Johnson), who will do everything in his power to bring his charges back to the US.

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - JULY 16:  Actor-director ...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeNow while I don't personally quite get the physical appeal of Vin Diesel since he seems way to big for me to considering him hot, I do respect his choices as an actor since he's a self-professed geek and he did great work with the Riddick movies. And his character here is certainly one that shows considerable development over the years thanks to the writers. It's something that only really happens when a movie gets to expand into a full franchise - after all he started as pretty much just a caricature of what a person might be. At least that's what my impression was in terms of what I heard about the first movie.

The movie's central focus is the big heist, which certainly attempts for a sort of more muscular version of Ocean's Eleven and similar movies. You get a very diverse multinational cast of mostly familiar faces (for those who have been loyal to the franchise) plus some new faces to round out the crew. Their methodology for mapping out their mission is pretty crazy but it does go through a lot of the old cliches of similar heist movies.

The real centerpiece of this movie are the ridiculous car stunts that involve either some really fancy driving or just some pretty crazy driving. My partner says that even compared to some of the past movies this one was a little far-fetched, although despite their efforts to push the envelope, they still managed to stay on the side of reality. But just barely. Still, the end result was pretty awesome and all the action was certainly fun to watch.

Even the person-to-person fight scenes were pretty crazy, thus making it all the more fun to note that director Justin Lin also directed the Community episode "Modern Warefare". He did a great job of keeping the action nicely intense without turning the sequences into overly confusing and hard-to-follow cuts upon cuts. Thus things were pretty fun and enjoyable overall.

Fast Five is pretty much everything you'd want in this kind of an action movie. More numerous and even bigger car stunts, lots of fighting between rather big and muscular actors, lots of guns and the occasional wise-crack. Oh, and don't forget the sexy female protagonists. The movie gets 4 crazy examples of The Rock's character being pretty smart out of a possible 5.




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