Monday, May 2, 2011

Fast Five

There’s a scene early in Fast Five, the fastest and probably most furious flick in the franchise yet, that, despite completely defying the most fundamental laws of physics and gravity, is a real kick-ass rush.  Convict Dom (Vin Diesel), ex fed Brian (Paul Walker), vixen Mia (Jordana Brewster) and a slew of other badasses, boost a few cars from a moving freight train, and, naturally, escape near death.  Save Justin Bieber’s encore of “Baby” in Never Say Never, Fast Five’s Great Freight Train Robbery is the best action scene Hollywood has produced this year. 

That’s the skinny on Fast Five: it’s a good popcorn flick that does well at what it wants to do well at (stunts, loud noises, explosions, car chases, short skirts), which is to say… Fast Five is completely decent, as long as the characters aren’t actually involved in any sort of verbal communication.

When they aren’t setting up overtly “necessary” plot exposition (something about nabbing $100 mil from a corrupt Rio businessman) then the characters subject us to endless banter pertaining to shit no one cares about, using dialogue no one can nearly begin to comprehend. 

The greatest offender of Chris Morgan’s poetic words is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who plays some off-the-grid special agent tasked with bringing Dom and Brian down.  You may forget that, despite having established himself as a credible box office draw, The Rock got is formal acting training within the confines of a wrestling ring.  Case in point:

Random Cop: Well, I’ve got good news and bad news.
The Rock: You know I like my dessert first.
Random Cop: [delivers endless, incompressible “good news”]
The Rock: Now give me the damn veggies.
Random Cop: [delivers endless, incompressible “bad news”]

This is pretty much how most of the movie plays out: ridiculous plot details in the form of soft-core porn-appropriate dialogue, bookended with two good action scenes.  After Tokyo Drift (which, apparently takes place in 2030, or something) and 2009’s Fast & Furious, (which, apparently took place before Tokyo Drift, or something) Fast Five marks Justin Lin’s third Fast and Furious directorial effort.  Lin has some talent (as is evident in his underrated Better Luck Tomorrow from 2002), but as this franchise keeps churning, Lin’s talent keeps dwindling. 

Part six is already in the works.  So let’s do a head count: we’ve been to L.A., Miami, Tokyo, Dominican Republic, and Rio.  At what point do we get Fast and Furious and Space?  Fast and Furious and Underwater?  Any takers?  Shit, I’d see that.  D+

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