Cinematic Cliffs Notes - Fast Five
Who's saying what
I COULD NOT BE LESS KIDDING. See that photo there? That's of Paul Walker and Vin Deisel as Brian O'Conner and Dominic Toretto. One used to be a fed. One's a master car thief. They're best friends. And in that photo, they're about to SURF A CAR OFF A CLIFF TO AVOID CERTAIN DEATH. That's like seeing a guys fist sailing towards a bad guy, then punching the fist into the bad guy. Like some kind of double punch. It's like punching a punch to save your friend. OR SOMETHING.
And no, this isn't an April Fools thing, although I can see how you might think that's the case. But I'm a huge fan of grindhouse cinema, and grindhouse cinema has spewed out some fantastic muscle car movies. Now to be fair, the first four Fast and the Furious movies, which kick off with a Point Break style undercover op turned friendship-strewn buddy movie, aren't grindhouse at all. O'Conner is squeaky clean and is sent to infiltrate a gang of car thieves, headed by Toretto, whose honour code ensures he and O'Conner will become friends. O'Conner falls for Toretto's sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster), and all manner of awesome explodey crap ensues. Over the course of the series, O'Conner and Toretto get pulled apart, by other cases, by prison or whathaveyou, but over the ensuing films, we meet a bevy of other characters, some of whom are memorable, and some of whom are THE ACTUAL LUDACRIS.
But I digress. Fast Five is the brilliant, bloated lovechild of Oceans Eleven and Gone in Sixty Seconds, and it quickly becomes obvious that it isn't a muscle car movie at all. It's a SUPERHERO HEIST FILM. I'm not even vaguely kidding, brosef. To pull off the score which will clear the names of themselves and their loved ones, our heroes call in every favour imaginable, assembling a team of carjackers, all from the previous films, and all with their own specific styles and skill sets. The whole 'Avengers Assemble' sequence is so weirdly compelling and endearing that by the time the action starts, you're cheering involuntarily. Or voluntarily. Whatever. I DON'T WANT TO JUDGE YOU.
Walker and Deisel slalom and shoulder their way through gloriously hammy but tantalisingly earnest dialogue, and because this is the fifth film, you can feel the weight of a backstory without ever really feeling the need to back and explore it (even though you totally should watch the first one). They look tired but invigorated by the whole affair, and when the driving starts… holy crap. Fast Five is the only film i've seen where cars are used as giant fists. I mean, the fist-fights in this film are perfectly edited and choreographed, brutally violent and sublimely timed, but the car fist fights? The heroes in this movie are such good drivers that they literally punch cars off the road with their cars. Like I said, Fast Five is a superhero film, and the cars are the costumes, imbued with insane, gravity-defying powers.
One more thing: Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, plays Luke Hobbs, a towering, gleaming cyborg of a DSS agent, sent to bring in Toretto and his entourage. And credit where it's due: he's perfect in this role. Also, in typical comic book movie style, he's not even the villain, he's just a good guy with a violent and monochromatic moral radar.
LOOK AT THOSE GUYS. IT'S LIKE WATCHING TWO TANKS GETTING READY TO DO IT.
One of the key things to remember in life is this: balance. It applies with food, and it certainly applies with movies; Grindhouse is the fast food to the fine dining of the Criterion Collection. And Fast Five is pretty much the best hit of sugary crap you'll be able to get in one sitting. So don't get down on 'low' cinema; it's an absolute treasure trove of artistic verve and audacity which, frankly, you don't often see in other films. Also, Fast Five has something for everyone! AND I TOTALLY MEAN THAT. OBSERVE!
Are you a nerd? SUPERHERO MOVIE!
Are you a girl? CRAZY SEXY OILY GUYS!
Are you a guy who likes guys? CRAZY SEXY OILY GUYS!
Are you a guy who likes girls? THERE MIGHT EVEN BE A FEW LADIES ALL UP IN YOUR GRILL!
Car buff? BUFF CARS!
Are you a film snob? GO PISS UP A FLAGPOLE, GRANDPA.
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