Fast Five takes what the previous films have set up, everything good and everything bad (the 4 predecessors are worse than good) and changes the formula. The sense of family, the most poignant theme surrounding this franchise is brought together featuring every major main and supporting character that made the most impact on screen and behind the wheel. When Twinkie said to Sean at the end of Tokyo Drift that Han (Sung Kang) was family on behalf of the driver looking to race, this is what was meant. Fast Five is about family first and foremost – the cast of characters that are unlikely to form any sort of social group come together, inviting anyone and everyone into the family.
Along with the familiar faces of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster), Tej Parker (Chris Bridges), Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Gisele (Gal Gadot) and Vince (Matt Schulze), newcomer Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) has the biggest impact on screen. His presence alone radiates toughness and a ferocity that goes unmatched throughout the 130-minute runtime. Normally they intensity is meant for Dominic, but Hobbs is ready to lay the smackdown, never disappointing once.
Out with the old tried and failed concept of relaying a story interesting enough to keep viewers attention. The drag races fire on all cylinders and are shot in a fast-paced heart pumping manner but leave a lot to be left desired and or the amount of potential of what this franchise could be. The shift in gears started with the previous film with heist elements as a tertiary storyline, the familiar drag racing storyline secondary and a revenge story as the primary storyline. And it oddly worked for the most part, but an ingredient was still missing from the recipe.
Returning screenwriter and director Chris Morgan and Justin Lin have cracked the code. Shifting all the elements by importance to the overall vision creates a different world within the familiarity of what were used to. Fast Five is a heist movie primarily – the cars are still gorgeous with their time in the spotlight, but the tone is fully committed to the life of crime that was set up in the first film in this expanding saga.
To anchor this new model of approaching a Fast saga movie is the returning faces teaming up to ride or die for each other. That term has always been synonymous in which this franchise lays its bricks upon but now the stakes are higher. What the previous films lacks the most were stakes – there was no real danger for these characters, they all felt safe since majority of the scripts were leaning toward the basic side of things. Each film is predictable in them to a point, some more predictable than others – when Justin Lin and Chris Morgan took over in Tokyo Drift something had to happen to keep the story fresh, and they did. Now it’s just a question of how things fit in the timeline. Where does Fast Five fall in place?
Family is the backbone of this franchise, there is no denying it at this point, Morgan has been steering in this direction for 3 films now. It’s the core of each film with Dominic preaching about family with every other line of dialogue. The result of this theme is how well each actor/actress work together. This is the fifth film in this franchise and Paul, Vin and Jordana are their character counterparts.
With how well-oiled Fast Five is, problems with the villains are still present. But here the villain is written in a way that we can ignore him since the focus is on Dom and his team evading Hobbs and Elena (Elsa Pataky). Both Diesel and Johnson steal the spotlight whenever the two are on screen together. You want them to fight, and the anticipation builds from their first interaction to the first punch being thrown. Fast Five is filled to the brim with action set pieces to fully engulf the viewer to watch all the carnage play out. I mean two Dodge Chargers dragging a bank vault through the streets of Rio De Janeiro is a blast to watch as building are destroyed, and cars are pancaked.
Fast Five is full of personality – both on screen and behind the scenes. Old rivalries are reignited but find a way to stay relevant to the story that’s being told. In the end, Chris Morgan told a better version of the Brian and Vince rivalry – both have an understanding of one another but with one word the two men are at each other’s throats.
What happens on screen is a lot to take in and consume. Every character is given their moment to shine with just as many plot lines being explored. Justin Lin juggles all of it as well as he can. However, what makes everyone keep coming back for the next installment is the possible destination for each character. Growing with these characters for over a decade now, attachments are formed, emotional connections are present and identifying with each character is at its peak. Certain characters are written better to ingest their alpha level personalities than when we were first introduced to them.
Fast Five is a breath of fresh air the franchise desperately needed. What started with the fourth installment is built upon to the point that the franchise’s identity has morphed into what the landscape will be. Each actor/actress is fully engulfed in their role even when how characters started and how they got to this point doesn’t make total sense. To reiterate, Chris Morgan’s script isn’t perfect, with questions left unanswered like the previous films in this franchise, Fast Five will get the blood pumping and raise the adrenaline they only way Justin Lin knows how. This is a pure popcorn blockbusting entertainment in the purest form, the ride is still enjoyable after a decade’s worth of films.
Fast Five is written by Chris Morgan based on characters by Gary Scott Thompson, directed by Justin Lin is Rated PG-13 and has a 77% on Rotten Tomatoes. Fast Five was released on April 29, 2011 in the United States and has a runtime of 2 hours and 10 minutes. Fast Five can be bought by online retailers like iTunes, Amazon, and Google. 4.5 out of 5.