Tuesday, May 10, 2011

‘Fast Five’– Yes it is!

Full disclosure, I actually liked the original ‘Fast and Furious’; it was the three following sequels that I could have done without. The action as well as the sorties (such as they were) paled in comparison to the original. They just seemed like the same tired retreads that sequels normally fall into. However, when you come right down to it, it is a car chase/crash bonanza, what more should I expect?
It is with that same mindset that ventured into the multiplex to catch the latest chapter in the ‘Fast and Furious’ saga (as if I can even liken it to a saga, but there does seem to be an effort at continuity). I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised.

‘Fast Five’ is sleek, loud and drenched with testosterone; delivering everything you would expect from a movie such as this as well as just a bit more. This is due in large part for the fantastic idea of pairing Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Vin Diesel in the same movie! It is the battle of the ultimate bald bad asses as Johnson and Diesel play cat and mouse throughout the streets of Brazil. But, is there a plot you might ask? Surprisingly, there is!

Former cop Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) reunites with ex-con Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and the rest of the original ‘Fast and Furious’ gang who have just broke Dom out of jail; it is a fiery and destructive jail break, the kind that cause much damage and yet the heroes emerge unscathed. Yes it is that type of movie. Since jailbreaks are frowned upon, the group heads off to Rio. Quickly hurting for money, the group decides to take on one last job, a heist involving stealing cars off a moving train. Yes, I wrote moving train. This scene alone is a poetic blend of CGI, stunt work and story. Wait!?! Did I actually just mention story? Believe it or not, there is an actual story here, farfetched and absurd, but a story none the less. It is centered on the heist off of the train and it involves the evil businessman/drug lord Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida) who does not really want the cars, rather something in one of the cars! Our heroes are framed for the murder of a DEA agent which sets the ruthless and dogged Agent Hobbs (Dwayne ‘The rock’ Johnson) on their tails.

There is really no point in going into any more detail about the story. None of it makes sense. Why would a drug lord have to arrange to have a hidden car stolen? Why is there even a hidden car in the first place? Well, they are there to drive the action forward so that we can have one spectacular chase, crash, explosion, fight scene, next after next after next! A 130 minutes of brain concussing explosions and ear ripping engines! That’s a lot of mind numbing entertainment.

This isn’t a movie based on reality, logic or even common sense. It’s about cool cars, guys with enough muscle to fill Venice Beach and some of the most terrific stunts filmed in some time. This is about Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel going toe to toe, with Johnson so tough that he spits out a wad of glass after crashing through a window. And that’s the true point; this is a movie that is done with in your face style and guts; it is sleek unapologetic and actually ties all of the action together in a manner that keeps you captivated. Director Justin Lin seems to have a true fondness for the ‘Fast and Furious’ characters, even amid the carnage you are still feeling for them. I for one am glad to see ‘The Rock’ return to his action roots; it is where he belongs! This is a 3 ½ star effort worth the trip to the theater and a good way to kick off the summer movie season!

My Redbox pick this week (as I know everyone does not have access to Vudu – if you don’t, you are missing out!) will slow things down a bit for you. The recently released Academy Award winning ‘The King’s Speech’ is the perfect follow-up to an explosion ridden evening. Academy Award winning Colin Firth is the soon to be King George VI, who is plagued with a speech impediment while his country stands on the brink of war. This wonderful story, told with grace and charm, chronicles treatment and resolve to overcome his lifelong issue. Geoffrey Rush as his forward speech therapist gives a wonderful performance. This 4 star, Academy Award winning film, is well worth the trip to your favorite Redbox station. AND – if you have Vudu – it Is available with the click of your remote!

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