Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fast Five

Who's Tough?

As far as franchise films go, The Fast and Furious series seem to be hitting the ground at top gear, with this installment not showing signs of slowing down, but prepping a new direction for future films to take, shifting gears from a film showcasing hot bodies (not solely just car chassis) and fast nox-enabled cars into the classic heist genre, given that it had that as its underlying premise from the first film, and now with a growing ensemble, are ready to give Ocean's Eleven a run for its money.

Rio De Janeiro provides the backdrop in which this installment takes place in (quite a popular location for films recently too), with the chief villain being Reyes (Joaquim de Almedia), a mobster with a businessman front, with his tentacles of vice and influence extending toward every part of the city. Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) and the former's sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) hide out in the city as fugitives having broken Dom en route to prison at the end of Fast & Furious, and with the kind of money available for the taking to start a family of their own with Mia found to be pregnant, they decide to assemble a team, not to pass up the opportunity of robbing Reyes blind.

So in comes a whole host of characters whom we have seen in past films, such as Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), Gisele (Gal Gadot), and even Han (Sung Kang) whom we know what happened to in Tokyo Drift, hence putting the chronology of the films at 1, 2, 4, 5 and 3 (five films in 10 years is quite consistent), which is now sometime in the not so immediate future. Director Justin Lin takes on his 3rd film of the franchise and together with writer Chris Morgan have managed to introduce new elements to surprise audiences and fans up until this installment, keeping with the usual action laden elements, while bringing on new characters into the franchise, this time with Dwayne Johnson coming in as a no nonsense, dogged and persistent FBI operative Hobbs, with an arsenal of technology and attitude to aid him and his team in tracking down Dom and his crew.

And of course who cannot wait to see two tough guys in Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson go one on one with each other in a fisticuffs, especially since their time with family friendly films have taken a backseat to put them both firmly back into the action genre. It sets up new rivalry, while keeping the old between Dominic and Brian with the latter always keen to prove who's the better driver. And like most ensemble films, it's make or break given the character's appeal, and I'm glad to note they share this incredibly chemistry this bunch of highly skilled cons who each bring their know-how to the table in trying to pull off mission frickin' insanity, and everyone possessing a mean driver's license to power souped up vehicles.

And if it's action you're seeking, it's action you'll get in this film too, putting aside the rather rote and superficial theme of family and trust. There's no lack of races and wheels on the roads although I do note that there's not too much of signature cars to go around this time. Even a would be street race was unceremoniously cut off, although we do get it compensated with a four way race down two traffic lights amongst Roman, Dom, Brian and Han which was more of a fair competition since they were all essentially driving the same model. Then there's the big bang finale that you would have seen in the trailer, with Dom and Brian yanking a bank vault and travelling down the streets of Rio at top speed, in what would be a fittingly noisy last act destroying everything, and I mean everything, along their path, that has to be seen in a cinema to enjoy this guilt trip in sense surround glory.

Needless to say I am a fan of the franchise, and am excited about the direction this film would be going even if it would mean limiting the number of cars on the roads, since the film had already shown the potential of that chemistry between the cast and characters, and I'm eagerly anticipating more. From one fanboy and an action junkie to any other, this of course would be recommended fare.

Stay tuned while the end credits roll, and you'll be treated to a stinger that reaffirms and teases what's to come in the next film, with no less than two surprise appearances. But no, with the timeline, it'll take a while before Lucas Black will be able to link up with the guys. For an adrenalin pumping high octane entertaining film outing, Fast Five is that opener to a very noisy and crowded summer season to come.

P.S. For those who find it hard to suppress that inner racer in you after watching the film, you may want to consider getting it all out on a go-karting track. Head on to MC²! Motor Sports' Go-Kart Event to do so, and more details are available at their event website!

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