Title: Fast Five

Director: Justin Lin

Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Dwayne Johnson

Many action sequels today fail to captivate their audiences because the studios care more about capitalizing on their successful predecessors, instead of further developing their characters or creating any new, original stunts. However, the new action film ‘Fast Five’ proves it’s unique in the fact that the cast still cares about, and relate to, their characters and their stories. The series’ returning director, Justin Lin, who helmed the previous two installments, also honored the original ‘The Fast and the Furious’ by truly focusing on how the characters interact with each other.

‘Fast Five’ follows in the immediate aftermath of ‘Fast and Furious,’ and shows Brian O’Conner (played by Paul Walker) and girlfriend Mia Toretto (portrayed by Jordana Brewster) successfully freeing Mia’s brother Dom (played by Vin Diesel). Brian and Mia make their own way to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and wait for Dom. They are reunited with Dom on a job stealing cars, which was set up by their friend Vince (portrayed by Matt Schulze). However, the job goes wrong, and three DEA agents are killed.

The owner of the cars, corrupt business owner Hernan Reyes (played by Joaquim de Almeida) goes after Brian, Dom and Mia to get back the car they stole from him. As the three realize why Reyes wants the car back so much, DSS federal agent Luke Hobbs (portrayed by Dwayne Johnson) arrives in Rio to apprehend them. Brian, Dom and Mia, now all fugitives, call in some of their friends, including Han Lue (played by Sung Kang), Roman Pearce (portrayed by Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (played by Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges), to help them pull off one last heist on Reyes.

Bringing back many of the original characters from the first three ‘The Fast and the Furious’ films was a smart move on Lin’s part. Walker and Diesel still have a great chemistry together, and seem as though they truly care about what happens to each other. Their natural bond translates well onto the screen, making it believable that Brian would forgo his career as an FBI agent in order to save Dom from going to prison. Even though the Brian and Dom relationship is still the most believable, even after the original film debuted 10 years ago, Gibson and Bridges also seemed as though they were immediately at ease with their co-stars. Even though Gibson and Bridges only previously starred alongside Walker in the first sequel, ‘2 Fast 2 Furious,’ they convincingly showed their characters still wanted to protect Brian, Dom and Mia. Roman and Tej weren’t afraid of any physical danger threatened on them by Reyes or Hobbs, as they wanted to help Brian and Dom on the heist.

Even though ‘Fast Five’ marks Johnson’s first appearance in the street racing racing series, and Hobbs is the one chasing Brian, Dom and Mia, he still blends in perfectly with the original cast. While Hobbs spends most of his scenes tracking Brian and his crew down, and isn’t in many scenes with them, Johnson uses his experience from his previous action films, including ‘The Scorpion King’ and ‘Walking Tall,’ so that Hobbs can easily relate to his fellow characters. Hobbs uses whatever means necessary, even physical, to get a lead on where Dom and Brian are hiding, while the fugitives do anything, even kill people, to keep their freedom. Johnson makes it seem as though Hobbs truly believes what he’s doing is right, much like Brian and Dom feel as though they’re taking the best actions for them.

‘Fast Five’ is also one of the better sequels in the series because it doesn’t concentrate solely on the car racing. While there are some high action sequences featured in the movie as Brian, Dom and Mia try to pull off the heist, screenwriter Chris Morgan, who also penned the previous two installments, rightfully also focused on the relationships between the main characters. The characters truly mature in the sense as they no longer care about the thrill of the racing and out-smarting law enforcement. Brian wants to safely care for Mia and put an end to their running.

Having grossed $3.7 million during its Thursday opening midnight showings, the highest in its distributor Universal Pictures’ history, ‘Fast Five’ has already shown that it does have the potential to not only be one of the highest grossing movies in the franchise, but of 2011 as well. Incorporating more emotional exchanges between the returning characters, along with the series’ infamous car racing stunts, Lin proved that not all sequels are inferior to the original movie.

Technical: A

Acting: A-

Story: A-

Overall: A-

Written by: Karen Benardello


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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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