Fast and Furious Retrospective: Part 5
Everything is beginning to blur together into neon colours and shitty hip hop music…I don’t know if I can make it…
The Fast and the Furious: A cheap knock-off from Point Break. 3/10 stars.
2 Fast 2 Furious: Live action Whacky Races but less fun. 2/10 stars.
The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift: Definitely more interesting but held back by the bland replacement cast. 4/10 stars.
Fast and Furious: Mediocrity achieved. 5/10 stars.
We left off with O’Conner abandoning his role with law enforcement (again) to help Toretto. I also know this film adds Dwayne Johnson to proceedings, which is always a plus.
Director: Justin Lin
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Gal Gadot, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges (Ludacris), Sung Kang, Elsa Pataky, Matt Schulze
Plot: With the entire crew on the run O’Conner and Mia take on a job for Vince in Rio. When the job turns out to be a set-up a crack DSS team arrives on the scene to round them up. Meanwhile Toretto brings the whole team together to take down local drug lord Reyes.
Review: Christ people, you HAVE to get your titles organised. They’re a bloody mess. Having seen the success that came with bringing the old cast back for the fourth film they’ve got all out and brought every-bloody-body in for this caper. Letty was killed but replaced with Roman (Gibson) and Tej (Bridge) from the second film, Gisele (Gadot) from the fourth film and Han (Kang) from the third film. They turn up in Rio for an Ocean’s 11 style heist. Even Vince (Schulze) from the first film makes a return, even if it is only to act as a red shirt. For this plot to work all the characters have suddenly developed previously unmentioned special skills like hacking and grifting to turn this into a heist film instead of a street racing film.
The best addition by far is Johnson has Hobbs, a brutal DSS agent leading his team through the favelas in his hunt for Toretto (Diesel) and O’Conner (Walker). The guy is a concrete wall and he definitely ups the ante on the action scenes. As you’d expect he eventually switches teams to help Toretto bring down Reyes because Toretto excretes some magical pheromone that causes law enforcement types to become his BFF. Elsa Pataky also joins as new character Neves who starts interesting but ultimately doesn’t go anywhere.
Normally jamming the movie with so many characters would work against it. There’s only so much screen time to go around. In this case it’s a blessing, as the characters thus far have never been interesting enough to carry a story. Spreading the workload out helps keep the movie ticking along. It turns out to work best as an ensemble.
The story and action has also had a massive shot in the arm. We cut back and forth between different jobs getting done to prepare for the big heist, with each character working within their specialist field. It’s like a big, cheesy Italian Job where The Rock occasionally butts in to beat up Vin Diesel. He also says this line with a completely straight face:
That in itself is pretty amazing.
It’s not going to win any awards for writing but it is fast paced and packed with energy. Previous films were long, boring passages of expositional dialogue with the occasional street race to mix things up. This one is much more committed to action and comedic relief, with everything culminating in a massive stunt sequence where they drag a massive bank vault through the streets of Rio behind two cars. This scene alone is worth the price of admission, as it’s one of the most imaginative and well executed car sequences we’ve seen in recent years.
Amid all the popcorn fun there is one pointless addition to the story, and that’s Mia’s pregnancy. It barely serves any purpose and is only included to hammer home the oft repeated theme of ‘family’ that Diesel likes to growl about. There’s also the opening prison break where O’Conner has the genius idea of crashing into the bus, somehow causing it to flip through the air and amazingly not kill anyone.
Holy hell, we seem to have actually gotten to an enjoyable part of this never-ending franchise! A rambunctious and madcap action adventure is a colourful setting and a diverse cast! I genuinely hope they continue is this fashion because my brain is turning to mush.
Rating: EIGHT out of TEN