Fast Five (2011)
Directed by Justin Lin
The first in the franchise I would call genuinely good, “Fast Five” raises the stakes with a bigger budget, faster cars, louder guns, and a collaborative cast that combined all of our franchise favorites and even added a big name.
Now wanted criminals, Dom (Vin Diesel), Mia (Jordana Brewster), and Brian (Paul Walker) flee to Rio de Janeiro, where they meet up with Vince (Matt Schulze), who had made his way down here years ago. They’re too vulnerable to take on a new job, but they need the cash. So Vince finds them what he says is an easy gig, a great train robbery…but it goes awry. To get their revenge, the crew plans to take $100 million from Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), who has his hand in the pockets of Rio’s corrupt police force. But Reyes has guys all over the city looking for them, and they also have a Special Forces team led by Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky) on their backs. To pull of the vault heist, they’ll call in some old friends: Tej (Ludacris), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Han (Sung Kang), Gisele (Gal Gadot), Leo (Tego Calderon), and Santos (Don Omar).
“Fast Five” saw the destruction of somewhere between 200-250 cars on set, the highest of any movie in the franchise and one of the highest counts of all time. With a budget of $125 million, it could afford to. At the time, it was by far the biggest of the “Fast and Furious” franchise. The loudest, the fastest, and perhaps the most unbelievable. But unlike its unrealistic predecessors, “Fast Five” used its big-budget spectacles to its advantage, milking every second for all the excitement it could yield. This “go big or go home” mentality spills over into the cast. Dwayne Johnson is a riot as Hobbs, who spits every cheesy action movie line ever written, and clearly has a blast doing it. He fits right into this franchise that thrives on absurdity. Sadly, the script isn’t up to bluff. The actors have better chemistry than their dialogue gives them credit for. The characters aren’t developed at all through the script, but instead by the actors’ embodiments.
In “The Fast and the Furious,” these filmmakers showed us that they’re acutely aware of the racial layout of America with street racing gangs representing a wide variety of backgrounds. Now, the core cast gives us that diversity. Black, white, Latino, Asian-America, Israeli, and mixed-race cast members all have prominent roles. This is the melting pot we all talk about, brought to life on a big screen that rarely sees that many shades sharing the spotlight. When movies try to show diversity, it normally focuses on one racial minority. Here, everyone gets a slice of the pie. It’s an important thing.
“Fast Five” is a big-budget thrill ride that continues the franchise’s upward trend. It’s a blast from start to finish. Plus, you get to share it with your “Fast and Furious” family.