Fast & Furious 5 (2011) - USA - Action - Rated PG-13
A.K.A. Fast Five
Directed by Justin Lin
Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Ludacris Bridges, Gal Gadot, Sung Kang, Elsa Pataky
An upgrade to the usual unseemly goals of the characters of the previous movies is actually entertaining despite largely being a live-action cartoon.
An ex-cop and ex-con (that last part is debatable) on the run and evading the authorities end up in Rio de Janeiro where they not only run into a businessman/politician/drug dealer who is actually worse than them (I know...unbelievable), but they have a federal agent on their collective tails. They organize a heist (after all, the guy they are hitting is a major sleaze bucket) and call in the gang to assist, but not only are they facing off against greater odds and a near impossible task, but the feds are upping the heat.
I'll put it up front, I hated the first movie. Who the hell roots for highway bandits and a corrupt cop and sneers at people defending themselves from them? Well Fast Five takes it in a different direction, sort of, as this time around the gang is not so bad compared to the people they are going up against. Yes, it's a matter of apples and oranges, but not so difficult to figure out who the badder bad guys are as compared to Freddy vs Jason for example.
Fast Five is like a blend of the TV show Leverage and the previous Fast and Furious movies. The cars are still there, just not as prevalent and certainly not the main focus of the story this time. In this case it is a group of ex-cons, cons and assorted criminals taking on an even badder guy, but unlike Leverage they are the sole beneficiaries of their deeds.
Dwayne Johnson helps this movie out quite a bit as both his physical presence and determination of his character add an edge to the threats the characters face. It seems as though I can't help but comment on what a fine performance Ludacris gives in everything I see him in, and this is no exception as he really is an excellent actor. Some of the actors in this are just on vacation, some are brooding, but there are no bad performances here and several good ones including the aforementioned.
Fast Five is an over-priced live action video game filled with the same fantasy physics as a video game, but there is no pause button and that's probably what works best for it as it keeps up the pace and keeps the viewer in the story without taking any abrupt detours. It is ultimately entertaining at the least even if it is still stuck in its cartoon world of machismo.
My Rating: 3 Fingers