I have never been so motivated to write a negative review of a movie which is being hailed otherwise all over the world. And considering the fact that I am a big fan of this genre of movies and a fan of the previous installments of this FF series, my objectivity need not be questioned.
So I went to see Fast Five at IMax just because I had not had the I-Max experience before ever. Anticipating good action sequences and special effects, I went for a late night show. But what I ended up subjecting myself to was pure and unadulterated mediocrity and one that lasted for about 130 mins.
Now when I say that this movie is really bad, not only do I just mean that it is REALLY REALLY bad,but there is another more subtle reason. This is one of those movies which had a good mainstream director, good budget and already a measurable benchmark set in the previous movies. But the end product is what you might find from an amateur filmmaker who has no idea how to write a script and put the large budget to good use. And THAT is why I find it really bad. That it had all the resources and still managed to suck so bad.
I don’t even know where to begin. So let me begin with the first sequence of action. As Roger Ebert put it,
…steal cars from a speeding train by driving a truck beside the tracks, cutting the side out of a freight car with an acetylene torch, flipping the cars onto the truck bed, tilting the bed, letting them roll to the ground and then driving them away…”
The actual action sequence is actually lamer than what Ebert makes it sound like. In the scene, Paul Walker does a lot of acrobatics and stunts to get off a moving train and on to a car (driven by Vin Diesel) before the train gets on a bridge after which he may be forced to jump into the river running deep below. So he gets on the car just before the train hits the bridge but the momentum of the car takes them over the cliff and down into the river anway, thus making the whole action sequence redundant.
Come to think of it, the movie is replete with redundant scenes which do not amount to anything in the end. About 1/2 the movie is filled with such scenes. The whole planning of the heist, including assembling a ‘team’ (when half the members dont even contribute anything to the final outcome) and chalking out how to access the vault (when they really dont ‘access’ it in the end). There are also scenes where Vin Diesel and Paul Walker go in search of a faster car in order to beat the CCTV cameras in the heist site. They get a new car and show a bunch of scenes where they are practicing the run through the heist site but they still cannot beat the cameras. So later in the movie, they decide to use cop cars for the purpose ‘to camouflage’ their escape. And in the end, the way they eventually pull off the heist, they are not even avoiding to be caught, making all the previous planning scenes redundant.
The film tries to develop along the lines of a stereotypical heist movie. That is until the point where it suddenly decides NOT to be a heist movie. Sample this gem. Paul Walker says this somewhere in the middle of the movie:
“As a stealth mission, we will be in and out before they even know we are there.”
After watching the movie to the end, I am convinced the makers of Fast Five define ‘stealth’ as (Ebert) :
“…take two mid-size sedans, chain them to a bank vault and haul it behind you on a high-speed chase through the streets of Rio de Janeiro while being chased by the cops.”
I am not exaggerating here. In the end, The Rock takes his hummer and crashes into the concrete wall, thus breaking it. Then Paul Walker and Vin Diesel rip the vault off the safe room and haul it all around Rio. That is so ‘stealthy’ no? Totally making use of all the planning that went into the heist. But really, is it a heist anymore?
Some other notable instances of unwatchability: All the hot girls that are shown in the preview as the mandatory association with fast cars and the racing scene are shown for exactly the same duration in the movie as well. No exaggeration here either. And while portraying the racing scene in Rio, the characters decide to put a car-for-car bet on winning a race. Only thing, the filmmakers completely SKIP over the race part. Totally awesome no?
For a movie series that has made its name with action scenes arising out of car chase sequences and races, this movie features exactly 1 race and 1 car chase sequence. The inconsequential race lasts for less than 60 seconds (and it should have lasted even shorter considering the fact that they were trying to race for just 1/4 mile at super fast speeds). The car chase sequence is the last scene and it lasts for about 7-8 mins. The only other action sequences are the opening redundant train-car thing and a couple of ambush sequences of The Rock’s contingent (lasts for about 8 mins total). So that leaves you with about 110 or so mins of redundant planning and cheesy one liners.
The acting and the characters leave a lot to be desired. Vin Diesel looks like he is trying to be a wannabe Vin Diesel from the first movie. He tries too hard to sound and look invincible and totally awesome with his final-word-type dialogues. Paul Walker makes his presence felt by flashing his nice smile at the camera every time he agrees (like he has a choice) with Vin Diesel’s confidence-oozing plans. Jordana (Mia) shows us how you can jump 50 feet into a makeshift favella home and still escape uninjured – even while being pregnant.
Perhaps it is The Rock’s character that is the most hilarious and unnecessary. Seriously, his character has absolutely no influence in the movie’s story line, apart from a brief disrupting of their plans. And he seemed to be competing with Vin Diesel for cheesy and incongruous one liners and punchlines. The other female cop who supposedly has a tragic story to tell about how she lost her husband to the drug lord and that making her motivated to fight him seemed to be putting too much effort into her acting. It would have been better if someone just put up a message on the screen that read: “Ok. This female cop here has lost her husband to the drug lord. So she is motivated to fight him.”Oh and she is supposed to fall for Vin Diesel. But the chemistry between them is totally repulsive.
There are so many more sequences I can keep talking about. But I am getting tired of recollecting such intense mediocrity. And the worst part is that it has been getting extremely positive reviews all around. IMDB has it at 7.8. Roger Ebert gave it 3 stars praising the attention to detail in the story. ( I want what he was smoking when he wrote the review). I just found the movie retarded. Period.
Go watch it for yourself and feel retarded too. And hopefully you will do that BEFORE reading any review at all.