With the past 4 films in the franchise, I wasn’t expecting much with the 5th installment. However, I must say I was quite intrigued and drawn into it the whole time. Alongside the fast-paced momentum, however, I found myself losing focus not because of the plot or characters but because it got … a tad boring. BUT Fast Five gives us some things that the prior didn’t: 1.) better acting skills from Paul Walker, 2.) a plot that gives sense and meaning to all the main protagonists and characters, 3.) character build, 4.) crazy (and – at times – questionable) action scenes, and 5.) Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. By far, the 5th of Lin’s franchise happens to be the better out of all of them.
The film begins where the 4th installment ended: Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) is sentenced to 25 years in prison with a chance of no parole. And, of course, bringing back that “fast and furious” style, we see the brave ex-officer Brian O’ Connor (Paul Walker) and [O' Connor's] love interest Mia Toretto (Jordanna Brewster) break out Dom’s ride to prison by using their fast-paced driving skills and dangerous stunts that nobody in their sane mind would or should try. This establishes exactly what the film is about: escapism. Although not everyone can run away to Rio de Janeiro when life goes awry, watching and feeling as if you’re a part of Dom, Brian, and Mia’s life makes it seem as if you’re taking the journey with them. And with times like these, the plot is relatable and simply works.
Of course, the past installments focused more on running away from cops, and the plot based itself more on breathtaking vehicles and … running away from cops. There wasn’t much character build in the 1.5 hours Lin had to tell the story. However, Fast Five does the opposite. Despite running from DSS Federal Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), each character – from Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) to Han Seoul-Oh (Sung Kang) – from the previous films were given their own unique personality that made the film better than expected. In other words, it gave the film that long-awaited personality it needed.
However, the story – at times – goes weak, as if the screenplay had to be changed at last minute or during production. We start off where the previous left off, find ourselves in Rio de Janeiro, and then what? After we reach our new destination, Lin inserts at least 4 or 5 different acts that seem a bit out of place. Exactly how did our characters reach this mindset? Sure, each scene eventually flowed together, but there are moments where you’ll have to take a step back and ask yourself, “What the hell just happened?” Unfortunately, each scene seems to limit itself from being memorable (when it really could’ve been memorable); rather, we are given cheesy one-liners from Tej Parker (Ludacris), dorky pick-up lines from Roman Pearce, and a “bad ass chick” replacement of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) to Gisele (Gal Gadot).
Overall, Fast Five entertains with its extreme action scenes and intriguing plot(s). It’s not Oscar-worthy, but it is a guilty pleasure that you’ll most likely enjoy with a friend or two. And before I end this review, fair warning to not leave during the end credits (with the vibrant-colored race car driving); you’ll miss the “surprise” if you do!
This film runs 2 hours and 10 minutes and is Rated PG-13.