I remember sitting in a theater in 2001 with a few of my friends who were really into sticking stupid looking expensive things on their cars like spoilers, scoops, and dorky neon lights. It was their street racer phase. They couldn't get enough of the revving engines, and souped-up rides that were featured in the first 'Fast and the Furious ' movie. Yes, even back then my friends made fun of me for my overly critical view on movies. They sat there eating up every ridiculous race scene while I stared at the screen hoping something interesting would happen. Hoping that someone would drive around the corner and nail Paul Walker putting him out of his misery. I never liked the first one, and each subsequent 'Fast and Furious' movie has revealed itself as even more inept than the last. That is until 'Fast Five' came along.
'Fast Five' is so unabashedly silly it's hard not to love. From my memory of the first four 'Furious' movies they seemed to take themselves way too seriously. Too much time spent watching Walker try his best to put on a pouty, angst face while cars whizzed by around him. 'Fast Five,' if you'll pardon the pun, switches it up a few gears, and drives the franchise into a realm it should have been in all along. The "It's So Freaking Ridiculous It's Impossible Not To Like" realm. (ISFRIINTL for short)
You know that thing we call physics? Well, throw it out the window, 'cause 'Fast Five' wants nothing to do with it. There are no laws of physics here. Just crazy people driving cars really fast, usually being chased by men with machine guns. There's a scene where Brian (Walker) and Dominic (Vin Diesel) drag a giant vault through the streets of Rio while towing it with large metal cables hooked to the back of some unbelievably powerful cars. Is the entire scene possible? Not really. Even probable? Likely no. Is it fun? Hell yeah. It's fun in a way that none of the other 'Fast and Furious' car chases have been. Tedious shots of oscillating tires, stick shifts shifting, and drivers yelling obscenities at one another. Finally a car chase from this franchise that didn't feel like an extended commercial for the local racetrack.
The plot, you ask? Do you really need to know anything about it? Let me give it to you as succinctly as possible: Prison break, Rio, Deal gone bad, really bad gangster, lots of money, one last score. That's all you need to know. The rest of the movie is set up like an 'Ocean's' movie with more cars and less brains.
The introduction of Dwayne Johnson as a DEA agent tracking down Brian and Dominic adds even more spice to the otherwise dour cast. Walker and Diesel both have one note, and that's to look really grim and talk in gruff tough-guy voices. Johnson enters the picture and finally we've got a character in this with some flare. Here's a guy who responds to "I've got good news and bad news," by saying, "You know I like my dessert first." And then after the good news he retorts, "Now give me the damn veggies." How can you not be enamored with a character so over the top?
'Fast Five' is a heist movie more than anything. It's plot has so many holes you could tow a gigantic vault through them. I mean, the entire middle of the movie is rendered null and void. All their planning rendered useless by one simple change in direction. Then, at the end they pull a plan out of their sleeves that we never actually saw them plan. It's a good thing this is a generic heist movie, where the team always has an unlimited amount of money and resources for whatever job they need to pull off.
The action scenes are beyond chaotic. The characters are still as wooden as ever, but there's just something a little different about 'Fast Five.' It's a little meaner, and a little more creative, and that's all this franchise needed to make one of their movies enjoyable.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This Universal release comes complete with a Blu-ray and DVD. It's housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase that comes with a slipcover. The slipcover art is an enlarged version of the disc cover art which has been matched to look like the other movies, with the rectangular framed picture centered in the middle. There's an exclamation on the cover that says Extended Edition included. That's right there's a Theatrical Edition and Extended Edition, but the extended one is exactly one minute longer than the theatrical. I saw the movie in theaters, and still couldn't tell you which minute was added.
Like many modern action films 'Fast Five' has that blown-out Michael Bay contrast. Colors run hot, whites burn bright, and reddened skin tones soak in every ounce of sun. Even though I personally am getting tired of such presentations, I must concede that the intended look of the movie is faithfully reproduced here.
The second unit footage of Rio, which is used during transitional scenes, looks stunning. As the camera dips and then suddenly ascends above the giant Christ statue overlooking the city, it's easy to see the ability of HD to give the most realistic representation of real-life. Light shimmers off the water, and bounces off the multi-colored walls and roofs of the shanty towns. Reds, whites, and oranges brilliantly burst during explosions. They never blend together into unruly conglomerations. Each color is distinct and visible. Fine detail is top-notch. I have no idea why The Rock is sweating in every scene, but each bead of sweat can be seen perfectly. Even when he comes to meet Dominic at night during a street race in the streets of Rio.
I did think that, at times, blacks could be a bit flat. When Dominic visits Elena at her home to retrieve his necklace, I thought that the blacks seemed like they were crushing out some of the finer detail. On the whole though, 'Fast Five's sun-soaked visuals provide an eye-popping good time.
Now, the audio presentation here is demo-quality. Simple as that. This is an captivating DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. Since the movie is non-stop when it comes to chaotic action, whether it be fighting, shooting, or driving, likewise the audio never stops impressing.
Dialogue is always clear, even during the gruff talking contests that Walker, Diesel, and Johnson have on a regular basis. Surrounds are full of engine-revving life. The climactic scene where they drag the vault through the streets is filled with so much surround sound that it's hard to think that it's not really happening. As the vault tumbles end over end, smashing through cement barriers and glass windows, the chaos seamlessly travels throughout the sound field filling the mix with a wonderfully constructed sound. Panning effects of cars zooming from one side of the frame to the other are presented flawlessly. LFE is constantly pumping out the bass. It booms during the hip-hop-infused soundtrack, and jostles you out of your seat during the vault chase. Explosions reverberate with thunderous thuds.
Anyone looking for a demo audio disc has come to the right place.
I admit it, I like 'Fast Five.' It's corny, silly, and has no sense for simple laws of physics, but who cares, right? There's just something about The Rock that lights up a movie screen. He brings much needed character to the movie. It isn't the best action movie, or the best car chase movie, but it's a decent way to spend a couple hours. And that vault chase is just hilarious fun. With great video and demo-quality audio, 'Fast Five' comes recommended.