Fast Five

Fast Five

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Car chases in movies may be tricky to film but they're almost guaranteed to thrill. Nevertheless, with a few notable exceptions, they lose their effect if they go on for too long. Build a whole film around car chases and you need really good ideas to make it work. Build four films around the same theme and you'll find that you're reaching the end of the road.

Given this, fans had every reason to expect that this fifth instalment in the Fast And Furious franchise would be a disappointment. They're in for a pleasant surprise. A more complex plot, solid character development and some fantastic set pieces make this one a winner.

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It opens with Dominic Toretto (in Diesel) on a prison bus on his way to serve a life sentence. Up come his sister and her boyfriend in their fast cars. How to get him out? Simple. Roll the bus over a few times. "Amazingly there were no fatalities... all prisoners have been accounted for except one," say the rolling news reports that follow. It's a suitably incredulous, A Team-style touch, assuring us that we are about to watch a series of incredibly dangerous and silly activities but no passers-by will get hurt. It gives our heroes a sort of cartoon innocence that frees them of any culpability for their actions and enables everybody to relax and have a good time. Good. Ten minutes later they're trying to steal sports cars from a moving train.

At 130 minutes, Fast Five is overlong and could have benefited from the removal of some filler scenes, even if they're fun to watch in their own right. There are also too many bits where The Rock is required to act, hardly his forte, and not enough where he's watchably physical. In particular, the eagerly anticipated fight scene between him and Diesel in too brief and too unimaginative as well as being poorly shot. When it comes to the car scenes, though, Lin comes into his own as a director and there's lots to enjoy. The final big action set piece is tremendously destructive and great fun. The pacing is good in these scenes and there are enough twists and turns to keep the audience guessing even if the overall plot sticks strictly to formula.

Fast Five isn't exactly sophisticated cinema but it fulfils its remit with gusto and will often have you on the edge of your seat. Its tongue-in-cheek humour plays well with audience expectations and some small character moments are very deftly handled. Newcomers won't find it too hard to get into, and if you liked any of the others in the series, you'll love this one.

Reviewed on: 20 Apr 2011
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Fast Five packshot
On the run, the heroes of the previous Fast And Furious films decide to try and pull off one last big job.
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