By Stewart Terry
This series really has mileage; it keeps driving on and on and now it’s hit fifth gear! There are myriad clichés that could be used to describe the longevity of the The Fast and the Furious franchise (and let’s be honest most of them turn up in The Fast and the Furious marketing spiel) but Fast 5 has a nitro injection kick that sees it overtake the previous mediocre sequels proving there’s mileage in the old banger yet
– puns fin.
Looking like the wet dreams of a hundred hip hop stars finally realised, Fast 5 keeps to its exploitation roots by featuring fast cars, daring stunt work and women’s backsides being used as a way of obtaining fingerprint identification. To say the series has its tongue firmly in its cheek would be an understatement. The plot, for what it’s worth, revolves around double crossing Brazilians, dead DEA agents, drugs money and a Rio-based heist featuring fast vroom vrooms. This is, of course, all completely superfluous to the the heart-racing fender bender mayhem. Trying to read anything deeper into this film than that is a dangerous tactic. There was many a moment where I feared my brain had left a suicide note and subsequently hung itself by my spinal cord. It simply had nothing better to do.
In the context of bodily functions, Fast 5 is purely a movie for your gut. Full of high calorie, thigh-smacking summertime goodness this film threatens to leave you with nothing more than the meat sweats and a slight headache a few hours later. Mr.Vin Diesel and Mr.Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are the two dishes du jour on this man meat BBQ and, mercifully, both of them offer up a healthy side-helping of charm and charisma. Admittedly this is only in comparison to Paul “walking Ken doll” Walker, but still! They deliver every line with a nod to the audience and their ambiguous allegiances keep Fast 5 entertaining, even when the cars are parked.
The screenwriters’ attempts to turn Walker and Diesel into a modern day Butch and Sundance is almost laughable. In an added twist, Vin and Dwayne’s unfolding relationship manages to make the alleged homoeroticism in Top Gun look like nothing more than an accidental side glance at a testicle. Dwayne chases Vin around Rio like a dog in heat so it comes as no surprise that when they finally do meet, they feel compelled to wrestle and exchange blows until Vin grabs his big tool and tries to smack Dwayne about the head with it. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a mainstream summer blockbuster revel quite so much in sexual haziness.
The introduction of a number of characters from previous, less successful entries into the series slows the pace down so much that you could easily mistake them for human speed bumps. Tyrese Gibson is especially guilty. Spouting such lines as “Nice legs, what time do they open?” and that beloved action movie stalwart: “Ah, Hell naw” every so often with a slight look of shame etched on his face. Director Justin Lin tries to shoehorn in the C-list support like he was making a direct-to-DVD remake of Ocean’s 11 before finally giving up in the final third and deciding to make it the Vin and Dwayne show – much to the collective whooping of the audience.
Fast 5 was fun. Really fun. In a summer time slate that contains a ridiculous amount of popcorn pomposity, it delivers lowest common denominator action entertainment and a simultaneous wry smile to the audience. In this sense it may be the first time that the fifth entry into a series has been better than all that came before it.