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David Poland

By David Poland

Review: Fast Five

How much is there to say?

They took The Fast & The Furious and melded its genes with Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven, The Magnificent Seven, The Italian Job, and Midnight Run. They steal develop from the best.

It’s not very good. And that, in part, is because it’s trying so hard to pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease. But that’s also why it’s entertaining.

I have no idea whether Justin Lin or anyone else involved with the film can actually shoot action because so much of it is CG. I’m not sure why I never got goofy about the film, giving in completely to its cartoonish, ethnically supercharged, sexually balanced pleasures. In the third act, I started laughing out loud at some of the more absurd or absurdly predictable moments… but I didn’t feel like I was disturbing the crowd, which was having fun.

The big action sequence near the end reminded me a lot of Michael Bay’s lowest moment, throwing corpses off a truck on a Miami causeway. It was just so over the top that I couldn’t find any way to stay with it, try though I may. But even more so, I was a little shocked by how much actually killing there was in this film. I didn’t remember that as a theme from the other films. Threats and guns and stuff, yes. But lots of random death in this movie… doesn’t seem to bother any of the characters anymore. For me, it created an edge that I didn’t find as amusing as I wanted.

I liked almost everyone in the film. It’s a very likeable, watchable cast. You have your core triangle of Growling Vin, Aging Walker, and Skinny (even 6 months pregnant) Jordana. There is the 2 Fast pairing of Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson. There’s Sung Kang, veteran of Tokyo Drift and F&F (aka #4). Matt Schulze returns to represent the first in the series. There’s a furious version of Scotty Caan & Casey Affleck with Tego Calderon (who was in the last one) and Don Omar, who makes his first appearance on camera after contributing music previously. And there is Elsa Pataky, who makes Brewster look fat in a bikini scene.

Now, we are ten.

Add The Rock and Gal Gadot to the mix as good guys who might… oh might…oh how they might… become ambivalent.

Now we are twelve… no, eleven… no, nine… no, ten…

Whatever. Who cares? It’s fast cars, skinny women who show their bodies off, and lots of sweat.

For me, it was Jack of all trades, Master of none. I would have preferred mastery of maybe one or two of the directions the film went in. But the kitchen sink is making good money, breaking records for the series. So there!

With all that going on, couldn’t Michelle Rodriguez’s ghost or her Rio look-a-like have turned up? Maybe they’re saving it for the sequel.

27 Responses to “Review: Fast Five”

  1. sanj says:

    big action sequence near the end is why people go see these films – how much money was spent on the last 30 minutes ? it can’t all be computer graphics ..

    it was 30 minutes too long – i didn’t like the music which
    was too loud …and a few of the cast members didn’t even
    need to be there.

    somehow Megan Fox wasn’t part of this cast.. she”d fit in

    Jordana Brewster should be in more movies but keeps
    doing tv series which would be fine if she won lots of
    emmy’s …

    this is not good for Rio tourism with all the random gangs on street corners and the corrupt cops –

    its too bad nobody from fast five can pull off a Renner performance from the town – which was also about robbery of huge sums of cash.

    Michelle Rodriguez – DP – you miss the 2 minute video after the credits ? i won’t get into spoilers.

  2. leahnz says:

    wait, so it’s “fast cars, skinny women who show their bodies off, and lots of sweat.”

    er, did you happen to be wearing a pirate eye-patch so as to leave only one sighted eye exposed during your screening to somehow not notice the EXTREMELY MUSCULAR MEN showing THEIR bodies off as a major visual cue of the flick, i’d say far more so than the women in this particular case, actually

    also, this is weird:

    “I have no idea whether Justin Lin or anyone else involved with the film can actually shoot action because so much of it is CG.”

    did you actually see this movie, DP? because one the things that rather stood out about the action was the relatively frugal use of blatant vis. effects/compositing (compared to most action flicks these days) in favour of a more traditional approach, with fairly heavy reliance on in-camera set-ups/stunts/set-pieces, the movie is outrageously silly fun but levelling a ‘too heavy CGI’ criticism at it seems bizarre. if anything for as action-heavy as F5 is, lin shows a decent eye for staging movement, bucking the CGI-heavy trend a bit.

  3. Harosa says:

    Why I would know this is beyond me but Don Omar was in the last one also, paired up with Tego Calderon as the comic relief in that movie also. And the CG complaint baffles me beyond the obvious stuff in the end wit the vault but I found they used tremendous restraint compared to the other films like pt.2 which resembled a video game cut scene half the time.

  4. actionman says:

    In Bad Boys 2, the corpses falling out of the back of the morgue truck occured on surface streets, not the highway. The highway was the scene with the cars flipping off the car carrier.

    The thing that impressed me most about Fast Five was how real it all (or a vast majority of it) looked.

  5. Krillian says:

    Yep, Dave must not have stayed through the credits….

    I kept waiting for the final action to show some random passerby get killed by the recklessness of Vin & Paul, but maybe they were just reeeeally lucky.

  6. jesse says:

    The goofiest blatant excuse they shoehorn in for the level of destruction that must involve heavy loss of life in the “real” world is an offhand comment that during that final chase, “every crooked cop in Rio” is after them. Oh, OK — ALL of the cops after them are crooked, so it’s now fine if their cars get obliterated, presumably killing at least a dozen of them. It’s like a politician: “We’re not saying anyone WAS killed in this massive destructive chase scene throughout a hugely populated city, but IF THEY WERE, it was ONLY CROOKED COPS [somehow].”

    That said, I agree with most of the “huh??” about DP’s too-much-CG complaint. Many of the stunts looked like stunts, and I had a lot of fun at this movie, much more than anything else in this series.

  7. Dignan says:


    Not a big deal but I think you’re confusing some of the actors. Gal Gadot is the Israeli woman who wears the bikini so well (she also was in F&F4 as the villain’s moll who later helps Vin & Paul). Elsa Pataky (aka Mrs. Thor) is the rookie officer working with The Rock.

    Also, as others have alluded, if you stay through the credits the ghost of Michelle Rodriguez does indeed sneak in there.

  8. Geoff says:

    I enjoyed it, it was fun – I did NOT think there was too much CGI at all, but the movie was overlong by at least 20 minutes. Still, I will definitely see F&F: Six on the Beach. (Neal Moritz can thank me for coming up with the title.)

    Couple of quibbles:
    – They gave Dwayne Johnson’s character short shrift. Sure, you want to emulate Tommy Lee Jones in Fugitive, that’s cool and sure Johnson can pull it off. But…..SPOILER ALERT……dude gives them a 24 hour head start and really believes he’s going to catch them???? Just lame.

    – I know I am in the extreme minority on this one, but I really enjoyed 2 Fast 2 Furious the best of the entire series. And this isn’t saying much, granted, but Tyrese Gibson’s Roman Pierce was the most entertaining/full developed character in the entire series, as well – I know, there’s been the hype about the romantic chemistry between him and Paul Walker, but come on…..they gave the dude short shrift in this movie. Have him sharing the screen with Diesel and Walker, have a rivalry between him and Dominic, etc….why not? Him and Walker were going to into business together and scamming money at the end of Part 2, why not have a little fun with that?

    To just have him as a side comic-relief character who is all about his “mouth” really?? Roman could out-drive Brian, they were equals – sorry not sure why, but I just felt a bit cheated by the lack of love that Tyrese got. And just have him hanging out with Tej at the end? Just not right.

    And where was James Remar or Ted Levine? They could have brought some of the “adults” back, too….

  9. palmtree says:

    “There was never once a CG vault. We had 7 different vaults that each served a different purpose. We had 4 week of prep for the scene, storyboarded everything and every camera angle was pre-determined. The tumbling safe on the first turn was real, not CGI. It was much more violent than we even expected.”

  10. anghus says:

    POTENTIAL FAST FIVE SPOILERS…. though that would mean there wasn’t a predictable moment in the film….


    Geoff, that was one of the things that made me laugh, because it’s so stupid.

    “you’ve earned a 24 hour head start….”

    which is basically sequel bait. but it’s so idiotic and makes absolutely no sense.

    they could have had him draw a gun to take them in, a car speeds up, the rock jumps out of the way. He gets up, dusts himself off and the guys are speeding away. the rock smiles…. the chase continues.

    i know, armchair directing. but it still would have made a lot more sense.

  11. David Poland says:

    Leah… good point about the amount of boy flesh. Really, I think it’s probably a better movie for those who want to ogle men than those who want to ogle women. I’m just not in the former camp.

    As for the “real stunts,” oy. I don’t feel a great need to debate the issue, but do we all believe the vault taking out the side of a building was done practically? Do we really believe that 90% of the vault stuff was “real.” Sure, they could have used a wood safe for much of it.

    And isn’t the idea for the CG to blend in? Wouldn’t it not being that obvious be a good thing?

  12. David Poland says:

    PS. Didn’t believe the claim to 100% non-CG on Bad Boys 2 to be true either.

  13. anghus says:

    there’s some behind the scenes bad boys 2 stuff where you see the Pre-Vis, and it seems pretty obvious some of the moves and pieces are CG since they match the Pre-Vis to an
    almost impossibly accurate level.

  14. NickF says:

    I’ll believe what my eyes saw David and the stuff in Fast Five looked as real as possible. Lots of car and property damage occurred and it didn’t look CGI to me. Compare it to Fast & Furious’ CGI tunnels (I don’t have a problem with those sequences) and this movie is significantly more reliable on practical effects. Based on honest people have said, Thor looks like a cheap cartoon for it’s budget and in comparison to Fast Five.

    The end of the train robbery sequence is amazing too. That’s one feature I hope is on the Blu-ray so they show how it was done.

  15. leahnz says:

    but DP, the issue is (for me at least) you said this: “I have no idea whether Justin Lin or anyone else involved with the film can actually shoot action because so much of it is CG”, which is a broad and quite damning statement.

    i’m sure some percentage of the safe-dragging sequence features post p vis effects shots/compositing, but that sequence is the grand finale of the movie, not the ENTIRE movie, which prior to that features a massive number of effects shots, a great many of which are clearly primarily set-up and executed in-camera with a heavy reliance on stunt work. even people who don’t know their ass from their elbow can see this (not meaning anyone who’s commented here specifically), and this is not just my opinion or the commenters here but the overwhelmingly consensus take on the effects work in F5.

    now, if you thought the safe-dragging (vault-dragging) sequence was too CGI heavy, that’s your prerogative (tho i can’t say i agree), but to paint the ENTIRE film with that brush – which is what you do in your brief, all encompassing quote above, including claiming that lin’s reliance on CGI in the film calls in to question his action chops – you should either make an effort to be more specific or be prepared to take criticism for making a far too sweeping negative claim in your review (and perhaps not use ‘oy’ in your reply as if it’s beneath you to respond to a bunch of feebs, esp. when your opinion is clearly a minority, and dare i say, flawed assesment of the effects work)

  16. palmtree says:

    So, DP, does Michael Bay’s reliance on CG mean you don’t know if he can shoot action sequences?

    Given that F5 is filled predominantly with action sequences, it’s a bit strange to still question whether Lin can direct action sequences because of some CG usage. F5 takes place mostly on location with live humans and mostly not in a CG environment so where’s this doubt coming from?

  17. David Poland says:

    No, Palmtree… because his skill is evident all over his films, tons of CG or not. Lin’s is not. He’s a fast cutting guy who doesn’t do very good coverage or action, in my opinion.

    As for Fast Five, most of the action is in close-up because so much of it is absurd. But he does the Pakour thing… not very effective. He does gun fights… not very effective. He does stand-offs… not very effective.

    We love those actors… so we look past shoddy direction.

  18. sam says:

    This series is my guilty pleasure. I saw it opening day and loved it. Hot guys, girls and souped up cars – that’s what I go for and got. Let Malick, Scorcese and Araonofskey get great actors to stretch themselves. In one scene, Lin seemingly holds a shot a few extra moments on Diesel in an almost sadistic manner knowing that Vin can’t pull it off. You sense the discomfort!

    I sat there giddily anticipating the first scene between Diesel and the Rock – it’s like the exploitation genre equivalent of the Pacino/DeNiro Kate Mantlini meet up in “Heat!”

    This is the attitude you need to watch these movies.

  19. leahnz says:

    “We love those actors… so we look past shoddy direction.”

    “we”? no, DP, speak for yourself. lin’s action in F5 is far from “shoddy” (and i’m not some huge fan of the movie), and most of the action is most certainly not ‘close up’, wtf are you talking about? seriously, now you’re just sounding like a ridiculous contrarian for the sake of it.

    (and i think people can watch ‘fast 5′ with any attitude they like)

  20. SC says:

    good action: Fast Five
    bad action: Thor

    David Poland doesn’t understand this.

  21. SC says:

    Note: I actually liked Thor better than FF, but FF’s action was undeniably better.


    Especially the Thor-Loki battle, which looked like little bits of footage pieced together in editing, rather than a real battle.

  22. David Poland says:

    Fast Five’s action was better than Thor’s… and more enjoyable, even for me. But “good?”

  23. David Poland says:

    Leah… what’s in it to be a contrarian 3 weeks out?

    I agree, people can see it any way they like. Except, apparently, for me… according to you.

  24. SC says:

    and shitty action: Battle LA

  25. leahnz says:

    oh please DP, when you blatantly say ‘we’ this and ‘we’ that, you are NOT speaking for yourself. that’s my point, isn’t that obvious? YOU can see it any way you like (and people can disagree with you, and have), so what’s up with using “we” as if you speak for anyone but yourself? and several people have disagreed with your assesment of the action in F5 in this thread – not just me by any measure – but you persist with using self-aggrandising language and naturally single me out for taking you to task when i am one of many. can you just admit when you’re being a bit full of yourself? apparently not.

  26. actionman says:

    Bad Boys 2 had only a few CGI shots during the car chases. I worked at JBF when that film was being edited. Got a chance to see them all working on it.

  27. palmtree says:

    We’ll just have to disagree. I was under the impression that all action directors these days are fast-cutting. I didn’t think Lin’s coverage was especially close-up, but I guess it depends what you’re comparing it to. If you’re implying that he’s too “TV,” then I would counter by saying his episodes of Community were among the more cinematic. But to each his own.

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