Friday, June 3, 2011

Fast Five (2011) – Review

Review: Fast Five is exciting and well done – full of great action sequences, fast cars and good looking women. It is the pinnacle of what the franchise is about and the film that all future installments in the series should aspire to, as it is easily the best of the series (and will probably be among the best action films of the summer). Going in the audience expects three things: to be entertained, to not have to overly think and for the film to be flashy (both with hot cars and girls). Director Justin Lin (who also directed Tokyo Drift and Fast & Furious, which was fairly terrible) does his best work of the series (and his career, unless you count the Community episode Modern Warfare). The story is pretty boilerplate and the returning characters have all had previous films for the audience to get to know them – both these things actually help the film. Usually, recycling a tried and true narrative just makes for a tired film, but here Lin is able to take the narrative that everyone knows and tweak it just enough to make it fresh. He also knows what his audience wants and delivers very good action scenes that push the boundaries of reality a little but are wholly satisfying and entertaining. Lin also keeps the narrative moving forward and does not dwell too long on anything (which is essential with somewhat shallowly drawn characters and story). And while the characters are not given a ton of dramatic work (save maybe Dom, Brian and Mia), especially the new characters (specifically Elena who is fairly cliché, but it still works fine), it does not really matter because the audience already knows the returning characters and Lin has given them each just enough to remind the audiences as well. He has also catered the roles to fit the actors making the characters more transparent and thus not needing too much dramatic work as they are essentially who is playing them (of course with some differences). What also works well in the film is Lin and cinematographer Stephen Windon’s shooting style – it is gritty and kinetic enough to derive the intended impact, but is still clean and crisp enough to adhere to the series’ sleek and sexy tone and style. The action scenes in this film work better, far better, than in any of the previous films. Lin could have gone too far over-the-top with them, and almost does in some cases, but he is able to get right to the edge of what is believable in the series and deliver great stuff. All that being said, the film is still not great (unless compared against its series predecessors). It is an action film that does not try to be anything more (which is fine). Fast Five is fun and thrilling, not because of great character work but because of great pacing and action set pieces.

Technical and acting achievements: Director Justin Lin seems to have taken a page out of J.J. Abrams book with this film – as long as the film moves forward constantly and the action is well done, the film will be good and entertaining (though, I would save that Abram’s MI III has better developed characters due to Abram’s being a better filmmaker and storyteller). As stated above, (I think) this is his best work, turning a completely overdone series suddenly into one that is compelling and has enthusiastically anticipated future stories (all the more impressive considering he directed the two previous not installments, neither very good). The work of production designer Peter Wenham and D.P. Windon give the film a great look, upholding the series’ style while creating a deeper sense of urgency to the action drawing the audience in. Composer Brian Tyler’s score is loud and accompanies the action well. The cast is good, each playing to their strengths. Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Sung Kang, and Gal Gadot (who probably made herself into an it-girl if not a star with her look in the film) highlight the supporting players, while Dwayne Johnson is wonderfully himself in his embodiment of his character. Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and Vin Diesel are all good in the leads (with Diesel doing the best work among the group).

Summary & score: Fantastic action, beautiful woman and awesome cars make Fast Five a triumphant film (in a series that has yielded maybe one ok film in four tries, previously). 7/10

1 comment:

  1. I am very big fan of Paul Walker. I am very sad after his untimely Death. But i am waiting for his last Movie Fast & Furious 7, which is coming in March 2015.