This is a film series with an odd history. The first one (The Fast and the Furious) was this silly one-off story about an undercover cop (Paul Walker) and a criminal with a heart of gold (Vin Diesel) and a whole bunch of street racing. The thing made more money that it really should have, so they had to make a sequel.
I never saw 2 Fast 2 Furious, largely because Vin Diesel chose not to be in it, so I figured it probably sucked.
But apparently it didn’t suck enough, because then they made The Fast and the Furious 3: Tokyo Drift, with NONE of the characters from the original. I also never saw this one, though I’ve heard it has a certain charm.
A couple of years ago, Universal decided that they might as well capitalize on Vin Diesel’s flagging career, so they hired him, and Paul Walker, and Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez, all of whom were in The Fast and the Furious, to be in the cleverly titled Fast and Furious. I did see this one, and it was diverting and enjoyable, though certainly not worth buying on Blu-ray or anything.
So, last night, I took the wife to see Fast Five, the fifth, and perhaps the most ambitious installment. So, not only were Diesel, Walker and Brewster back for this one, but they pulled a whole BUNCH of people from all the previous installments, and tossed in Dwayne Johnson for good measure. The cinematographer must have been told, “Make Johnson look like a pagan god” because that guy seemed enormous and more dangerous than Vin. (BTW, I’ve also determined that almost any film with Tyrese Gibson in it I’ll like, except for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which SUCKED). And the others were all relatively enjoyable, with the possible exception of the sullen and largely useless Sung Kang, a guy who, according to Vin, is capable of blending in anywhere… despite the fact that he’s Korean, and they’re in Rio de Janeiro. What’s funny is, that character dies in TFATF3:TD. So films 4 and 5 are prequels to 3. Heh.
This film is the studio’s attempt to shift this franchise from street racing into heist films. The plot here is that Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian (Paul Walker) are going to do ONE LAST JOB, and steal 100 million dollars from that guy who looks like Phil Hartman. So the large and racially eclectic team are like a down-market version of the Ocean’s Eleven guys.
The action scenes were good, particularly a car theft early on, and the final heist at the end. A lot of the rest was guys in rooms looking sweaty and intense, and a couple of moments about the importance of familia. Blah blah blah.
It’s funny. As I leave the theater, every one of these films has left me thinking “Hey, that was great!” Then I started ruminating on it the next day and realized “Hey, that was disposable!” But disposable entertainment has its place, too.