Fast Five (Blu-ray)
I am not a fan of the “Fast” franchise. I saw the original THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS back in the day and don’t have much memory of it. I missed 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS and TOKOYO DRIFT due to lack of desire. I caught 2009’s FAST AND FURIOUS, which reunited the original stars but can’t even remember why I didn’t like it because it was that forgettable. However, I have to confess, FAST FIVE was high-octane fun that easily made it the best of the series.
Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) are at it again, driving fast cars and bringing down the system. After Brian and Mia spring her brother Dom on his way to prison, the three are instant fugitives, making their way to the beautiful land of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We know this because there is about a half a dozen reminder camera shots of the Christ the Redeemer monument that overlooks the city. Following a double-cross while stealing some cars off a moving train, our three heroes get penned for the murder of a couple of federal agents. After reuniting all the major players from the previous installments, they begin work on an elaborate money heist from Rio’s biggest crime boss, Ocean’s Eleven style. But with an added touch of excitement America’s biggest badest agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is hot on their trail.
As one character says, “this isn’t Mission Impossible. This is Mission Insanity.” And insanity it is. If you think about the physics aspect, all the action scenes are ridiculous but they are inventive and fun. I found myself laughing with pure enjoyment as Brian jumps off a moving train onto a car only to have Dom drive it off a cliff. This is extreme action coolness at its best that is only amplified by the energetic soundtrack.
I understand in these over-the-top action films the plot isn’t the most important part and FAST FIVE is very aware of itself. In fact, this might be the film’s greatest strength – knowing when and when not to push plot details and emotional character moments. As a third time director for the series, Justin Lin is like a veteran coach leading the underdogs to a victory. Saying they are underdogs might be a crazy statement because after all, the film is a sequel in a very successful franchise and casts a few popular movie stars. However, when I say underdog I mean that the odds on favorite for a mindless action film is to bog itself down with bad acting, feeble emotions and complicated plot lines making the movie unwatchable. I for one was betting against it. But FAST FIVE keeps things light and simple by assembling a team of established characters and not wasting too much time with the emotional aspect. For instance, Mia’s announcement of her pregnancy is handled in a matter of seconds establishing motivation for our characters to pull together and steal this money for a better life. This isn’t Shakespeare and the actors know not to pull out the waterworks for these cheesy moments.
Diesel and Walker have a great chemistry as the leads and seeing them completely united on the same team is a nice change. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is an invaluable addition who jumps off the screen with golden action star lines. Fans of the series will love seeing their favorite characters played by Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Sung Kang and Gal Gadot from the previous films joining forces to make a super group. While those who have not seen all the other films (or have conveniently forgotten them like myself) will still thoroughly be entertained.
Video: (1080p High-Definition 2.35:1) The sound is absolutely exquisite, utilizing the surround from all the different action car scenes and the thumping soundtrack.
Audio: (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The picture is excellent picking up all the diverse colors of Brazil.
Feature Commentary with Director Justin Lin: He gives a typical commentary talking about the actors, characters and the technical aspects of the film. True fans of the franchise will appreciate the director’s thoughts, as he is one of its biggest fans too.
Deleted Scenes (1:40): Two short and unnecessary scenes.
Gag Reel (4:17): Typical unfunny line flubbing. I’m gathering Tyrese thinks he’s a funny guy.
The Big Train Heist (7:37): An inside look at how they filmed and performed all the stunts during the train heist scene.
Reuniting The Team (4:59): The entire cast talk about the excitement from reuniting after all working on different stages of the franchise
A New Set of Wheels (10:09): Car enthusiasts should enjoy this feature as they go into detail about every car used in the film and how they were used.
Dom’s Journey (4:55): This is a look at Dominic’s character and Vin Diesel’s performance as an actor and person.
Brian O’Conner: From Fed to Con (5:55): This is a look at Brian’s character over the course of the franchise and Paul Walker’s portrayal and personality
Enter Federal Agent Hobbs (5:50): Dwayne Johnson gets his turn with a segment featuring the newest addition to the FAST AND FURIOUS franchise.
Dom vs. Hobbs (7:31): This is treated like the battle between the two biggest action stars today. While I wouldn’t go that far, this is an exciting fight scene and we get to see the technical and personal challenges bringing it all together. My money is on The Rock.
On Set with Director Justin Lin (8:36): This is a true behind the scene look at Lin directing an aggressive driving scene. I like these sorts of moments because it really shows what is happening behind the scenes.
Inside the Vault Chase (9:20): This is a pretty neat look at how they did the final action scene. They actually saw a truck in half and put it inside the vault so it could drive around freely with the appearance of it being pulled behind. It’s quite impressive.
Tyrese TV (6:35): Tyrese’s attempt to be funny talking to crew people on set.
Second Screen: This is the pocket Blu app that can be downloaded for any of your electronic devices that not only allows you to watch the film but be interactive through some other features.