Howdy Bearlings and welcome to the fifth entry in the Better Late Than Never Movie Review series! Continuing on in my quest to plow through the entire “Fast and Furious” franchise before checking out “The Fate of the Furious”, today we are talking about “Fast Five”, which also continues the tradition of the “Fast and Furious” movies having absolutely no consistent naming convention. A pet peeve, I know, but one that I will keep harping on. Let’s get into it because there’s a lot to unpack in this one.
I haven’t done this in previous “Fast and Furious” reviews but as we get deeper into the series I feel that I should drop a SPOILER WARNING on here.
“Fast Five” picks up right where “Fast & Furious” left off and we actually get to see Brian, Mia, and the two other guys (whose names I swear I haven’t heard spoken ever) run Dom’s prision bus off the highway and break him out. Aside from it being a great action sequence, as we’ve come to expect from “Fast and Furious” movies, having this scene was a smart choice by the creators. It gives the series a better sense of continuity, which has been muddled at times (mostly because of Han dying in “Tokyo Drift” and then showing up in the next two movies). It also helps keep the pressure on the characters because our main three heroes, Dom, Mia, and Brian, are now on the run a fact which kicks off the rest of “Fast Five’s” plot.
After the prison break, Brian and Mia head south, waaaayyyy south, to Rio de Janeiro where they meet up with Vince, yes Vince the meat head from four movies ago! Vince gives Brian and Mia a place to stay for the time being and then offers to let them in on a job to help them get on their feet after being on the run. The job being steal some cars under impound by the DEA from a moving train. No big deal right? Not for this franchise anyway. Well it turns out that that job was a big deal because it wasn’t really about the cars, it was about the GPS chip in one of the cars that held all the cash drop information for Rio’s biggest drug lord. Not fully understanding what they were getting themselves into, Brian, Mia and Dom brought a ton more trouble than they already had to their doorstep.
A word on the train heist itself. It was pretty damn spectacular. Although somewhat implausible, I thought it was well planned and looked great on screen. The cutting out of the wall panel, yanking cars on the the flat bed, and then dumping the cars out and driving them away was pretty awesome.
During the heist, some DEA agents and some no name robbers are killed which draws the ire of both the drug cartel and the DEA, who calls in none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to help apprehend Dom, Mia, and Brian. Johnson, who plays DSS Agent Hobbes, is an absolutely wonderful addition to this cast. He plays the “over the top”, gung ho, take no shit, soldier type incredibly well, although he does look a bit odd with a goatee (or at least my wife thinks so…..).
After discovering the GPS chip in one of the boosted cars and after it is revealed that Mia is pregnant, our heroes decide that they need to relieve the drug lord, Reyes, of the $100 million that they now have the location of. This is where the series takes a big ole left turn away from being about using cool cars and street racing to bust criminals to being about criminals planning heists using cool cars. Honestly? Fine by me. I love heist movies and this turn of plot gives the movie the excuse it needs to gather up every main character worth gathering up from the first four movies. Joining Dom, Mia, and Brian are the aforementioned Vince, Roman, Tej, Han (YAY Han is back!), Gisele (aka Wonder Woman), and the two no-name guys from the opening and closing scenes of “Fast & Furious”!
Now that’s a pretty big main cast and that’s not including Hobbes. With that many main players, it can be easy for at least one or two characters to get lost in the mix but that’s not the case here. “Fast Five” does an excellent job of making all ten crew members feel like equals and gives them each a decent amount of screen time and a moment for each of them to shine. This assemblage of characters from previous movies also lends itself very well to that feeling of family that permeates the series so far. While Dom, Mia, and Brian form the nexus of the family, it’s crystal clear that everyone else has a place at the table and it’s that feeling that makes it all the more poignant when Vince dies in a shoot out with cartel soldiers. In that same shoot out, Hobbes’ entire team dies which serves to bring him into the fold of the crew and help with the heist as a way of getting at the drug lord. One could argue that it is a bit of a stretch to believe that a die hard law man such as Hobbes would turn to lawlessness on a dime like that but I’ll buy it. Seeing your entire team slaughtered before your eyes will do that to a man. Plus it give Hobbes a great scene at the end of the movie (no spoilers on that one).
What is hard to swallow though, is the heist that makes up the final act of this film. Rather than crack the vault at the police station, the crew decides to just rip the vault out of said police station and drag it behind two cars throughout the city of Rio, leading police on a wild chase causing God only knows how much damage along the way. Now, I may be your friendly neighborhood movie blogger by night but by day I’m an engineer and the physics of that entire heist are off the charts implausible. Just no…. At some point, it’s mentioned that the vault weighs a whopping ten tons and part of me wants to do the internet research and run the numbers to see if those two cars could even come close to dragging the vault down even a one block street but I am 98% sure the answer is no. From what I know of the series going forward, this sort of thing becomes the norm so I’ll just accept it and beef up my suspension of disbelief meter for the next three movies.
As I said I love heist movies. There’s always a switcheroo or some unexpected twist or a big reveal that gives the whole movie, or at least the heist itself, a completely different perspective after the audience is let in on what happens. As far as that goes in this movie, I am fine with it. Using the stolen police cars to help get the real police off the cars dragging the vault was fun and utilizing a garbage truck to switch the real vault with the crew’s practice one was pretty sweet as well.
I think “Fast Five” is my favorite of the series so far. I enjoy all the characters from past movies coming together and having a blast. While this entry in the series strays away from the familiarity of what came before, I believe that it was a natural progression of the story and serves the characters well.
Until next time, Thank You for reading and….