Directed by Justin Lin
April 15, 2011 (Rio de Janeiro) / April 29, 2011 (United States)
After breaking Dominic out of jail, the group is on the run and find themselves in Rio de Janeiro. When a job goes wrong, the team plans a $100 million heist of money from a corrupt local businessman while being hunted by a U.S. Diplomatic Security Service agent.
I enjoy the FF films. For me it is a surprise that I find them watchable. As the clear transitional film in the series, I especially liked this one because they made it just a fun heist film. Fast Five is a nice jumping on point for anyone who has not watched the first four FF films. It introduces older characters without you needing to know the entirety of the story of the previous films and easily connects them to newer ones.
Fast Five also somehow avoids the confusion that should have been created by having the character of Han (Sung Kang) in the movie even though he died in Tokyo Drift. This was not something that could be easily unknown by those walking into theaters as it was well advertised by outlets reporting on this film. I give the creators credit here.
The villain of the film, Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), is the usual criminal mastermind drug lord type that controls everything while posing as a legitimate businessman. Nothing unusual there but the actor behind him plays him with some flair and menace. He is a big enough villain to rival our heroes.
We get returning characters aside from just those that were in the previous film. Tyrese Gibson returns as Roman Pearce for the first time since 2 Fast 2 Furious. Despite Roman being Brian’s childhood friend, he largely lingers in the background here and plays jokeman while O’Connor (Paul Walker) and Dominic’s (Vin Diesel) engage in a serious bromance.
Gibson is joined by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as Tej Parker. Matt Schulze makes his only other appearance as Dominic’s childhood friend Vince. Puerto Rican singing stars Tego Calderón and Don Omar return as Leo and Santos respectively.
This marks Gal Gadot’s second outing as former Mossad agent Gisele Yashar. Gal Gadot is not the greatest actress, but she gets the job done in her performances. She is good but not great. She is normally better though than what she shows off here in Fast Five. Her brief moments with Han show real chemistry between the two. They were believably paired and not forced together.
Dwayne Johnson joins the cast as Luke Hobbs. Hobbs is a Diplomatic Security Service agent and perhaps the only other character in the series as muscular as Dominic. He is played like an unstoppable force and is almost as intriguing of a threat to our group as Reyes is. Johnson was a nice addition to the movie. Hobbs has just as strong of a moral code as Dominic does. Dominic is the ethical criminal with Hobbs being the ethical lawman. And both characters could respect one another. You had two almost physically equal individuals with similar screen charisma though I think at times Johnson is just slightly better than Vin Diesel.
Elsa Pataky shows up as Elena Neves who is a Rio police officer drafted Hobbs and his team and eventually becomes Dominic’s love interest. Her husband was killed by local criminals presumably connected to Reyes and thus is the only honest officer in Rio. She was not too well rounded her and at times just existed.
Mia (Jordana Brewster) and Brian begin their relationship in earnest. They start planning a life even though they are fugitives. And Mia is revealed to be pregnant in this film and we start getting heavy use of the theme of family from here forward.
Fast Five is most certainly a heist. You have the honorable thieves exemplified by Dominic and his group and then the more traditional criminals exemplified by Reyes. Dominic and his crew are akin to Robin Hood robbing from Prince John with Hobbs as an upstanding version of the Sheriff of Nottingham. Okay, that may be a stretch but you get where I am going with this.
Dominic and his friends are on the run since breaking Dom from custody. In desperate need of cash, they take part in the theft of several cars on a train. The train is not stationary. It is moving! Things get out of hand shortly after they realize that those they joined in this heist are only really interested in one vehicle. It turns out there is a microchip in that car which contains the criminal financial records of our movie’s villain.
There is an early 80s film called Tough Guys and that was the last time I saw any movie characters rob a train so I give the Fast Five crew points for originality for robbing a moving train in their story. These movies however about are about great action and doing lots of cool things and robbing a train is cool in a movie.
Our heroes come up with cool and rather brilliant ideas to get the money but are either thwarted by reality or just the general situation. The resolution to this film though is one of the coolest heist movie ideas I have ever seen. They steal the whole vault! It is not just a safe. It is a vault, and they drag it through the streets of Rio de Janeiro with hotrods.
And it is done as possibly one of the most destructive car chases ever put to film. They are dragging this vault from the police station (our villain has corrupted the police force) and whip it around using it like a weapon. And how they get away with the money ($100 million) is just cool. It is not one of those things that makes you go “That makes no sense!” They thought this through thoroughly and the creative minds of this movie set aside a moment where it would logically work.
All the best heist films have an exotic location. This is no different. The action takes place in scenic and exotic Rio de Janeiro. In reality the film was done largely in Puerto Rico since for filming purposes they would have better control of the overall environment there. There were establishing shots done in Rio but not too much more from my understanding.
I give the producers credit for changing the game here. While people complain about this series no longer being about street racing it was a smart move to go in a new direction. It extended the life of the series and prevented successive films from just repeating what came before. If they had not, then people would be complaining about these movies being repeats.
Fast Five is a fun action flick. Is it the greatest film ever? No but it is very enjoyable. It is a great fun heist movie with cool cars, exotic locations, and awesome action. Watch it!