Monday, May 27, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Fast Five (2011) **

PG-13, 130 min.
Director: Justin Lin
Writers: Chris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson (characters)
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Matt Schultz, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Tego Calderon, Don Omar, Joaquim de Almeida, Dwayne Johnson, Elsa Pataky, Michael Irby

Ho hum. That’s a phrase I tend to use at the beginning of a review when I really don’t have much to say about its subject. This time it’s the fifth entry into the “Fast & Furious” franchise that I find to be bland and fairly unnoteworthy. Perhaps that’s because this one is called “Fast Five”, which I must conclude to mean it isn’t so furious as the others. But really, my attitude can apply to the whole series of movies. Even the one’s I’ve enjoyed could warrant my “ho hum” response.

I didn’t even necessarily dislike this one. I’m just no longer thrilled by this premise. Pretty much every movie in the franchise is the same. They’re basically heist flicks that happen on the road with fast cars and big crashes. I guess you can only see so many cars spinning on asphalt and crashing through road barriers before it all becomes ho hum. One movie about did it.

For some reason, this attitude seems to be mine and not the public’s at large, since the sixth movie just opened this weekend and is tearing up the box office with a record-breaking Memorial Day weekend and the biggest opening in franchise history. I didn’t bother to go see it. Like all of the films in the franchise, I’m satisfied waiting for home video.

I think my biggest problem at this point is that, while the heists are interesting, the car chases are conventionally filmed—not all suped-up with fake looking CGI—and the pacing is usually pretty non-stop; there’s really no characterization that goes on at all. Not only have we been with the main three characters for nearly six films now, but they keep adding more in every movie and bringing old characters back. However, each character could be interchanged with any of the others at any point. There’s no difference between any of these people. They’re all the same. They’re all criminals who are really good at heart. The two main characters played by Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are both stoics, and everyone knows that having two fairly inexpressive leads makes for some dynamic scenes. I thought the addition of Dwayne Johnson might put a spark into the characters this time, but he’s treated pretty much with the same two dimensions as the rest of them.

Ah well, I’ll probably still rent the sixth one to see what new driving tricks they can come up with, but I certainly ain’t spending theater money on it.

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