Published Apr 28, 2011In an age when most of the muscleman action movies are sent directly to DVD (The Expendables notwithstanding) and Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal exist as walking, talking internet memes, there's something slightly touching about the continued existence of the Fast and/or Furious series. As if transported from an era before irony and self-reflexivity infiltrated the movie industry, Fast Five is a film where men are men, women are women and fast cars go vroom, and there ain't nothin' funny about it.
Cartoonishly bulky Dominic (Vin Diesel) and pretty-boy-with-an-edge Brian (Paul Walker), our heroes, as always, never allow themselves to show any emotion other than determination or smug satisfaction, as if other expressions would detract from their masculinity (although Dominic comes dangerously close to crying in one scene, I'm happy to report he pulls himself together). Aside from a single modest embarrassment at Brian's expense, their masculinity is never undercut by humour. Instead, there are two black characters to handle most of the comedy relief, one of whom is said to have "the biggest mouth" of the group, and the other of whom actually says, "Aw, hell naw" at one point.
When comic moments do occur, they are rigorously segregated from the main story through venues like the comedy-relief sidemen or a set piece involving explosives, pipes and our old friend poop. Racing cars, outsmarting ruthless businessmen and stealing $100 million are no laughing matters, folks. Nobody thinks it's funny that our brick-chested heroes are always so shiny and moist, or that a federal agent (Dwayne Johnson) should be so extravagantly muscled that he seems to have trouble moving his torso.
Nobody chuckles when our heroes get in a chase that involves dragging a giant safe through the streets of Rio, or when lines like, "It'll be just one last job" and "It's a suicide mission!" are used for the umpteenth time. And, hey, what are you trying to suggest about those scenes where Diesel and Johnson share screen time? They're just two dudes who like to work out and cast smouldering glances at each other, that's all!
So, what else do you need to know? Well, do you like Fast/Furious movies? Then you'll probably like Fast Five, wherein the cars do indeed drive fast, some might even say furiously. The film peaked early for me, during an impressive train robbery with a surprising conclusion. Later action scenes suffer once again from fast-editing and shaky-cam choreography, though both are starting to seem like a given in modern action films.
These characters remain a little too opaque to capture my heart and mind, but it seems foolish to complain about character development in a Fast/Furious movie at this point. Instead, I will close on a high note, by pointing out how nice Jordana Brewster looks in a bikini. (Universal)