Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Video review: "Fast Five"

The formula for "Fast Five," the fifth installment in the street racing franchise, seems to be:
  1. Put Vin Diesel, who was absent for the second and third movies, back at the center of the action.
  2. Add Dwayne Johnson as a testosterone-pumped federal agent on the gang's trail, setting up a flying-fists showdown with #1.
  3. Ratchet up the computer-generated imagery during the races, to the point cars pinwheel and slalom all over the street with barely a nod to the laws of physics.
 The most surprising thing is that this combination largely works, easily delivering the most entertaining movie in the series. At 130 minutes, it's way too long and the amount of juvenile macho posing occasionally reaches choking levels.

Still, there's no denying "Fast Five" is an improvement over the previous four, and it's nice to see a decade-old movie franchise discover it has another gear.

After being framed for the murder of some DEA agents, Vin and the crew (Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster) head down to Rio de Janeiro to hide out, and run into trouble with local crime lord Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida). They're soon snooping out their next big score, assembling some familiar faces to help out.

Hobbs, the all-snarl-all-the-time agent played by Johnson, complicates things with his pesky habit of showing up at the wrong time. We know it's only a matter of time before the two bald brawlers lay the smackdown, and their melee does not disappoint.

Neither does the crazy, culminating chase through the streets of Rio. Like the rest of the movie, it makes not a lick of sense, but it's agreeably fun sitting back and reveling in the mayhem.
Extra features are generous in both Blu-ray and DVD versions.

The DVD includes an extended version of the film, deleted scenes, a gag reel, featurettes on the journeys of Vin Diesel and Paul Walker's respective characters through the series, and another on the introduction of Hobbs. Director Justin Lin also provides a feature-length commentary.

In addition to those, the Blu-ray version adds a breakdown of the fight scene between Diesel and Johnson, a featurette with Lin, another demonstrating how the big final chase sequence was filmed, and a behind-the-scenes look with co-star Tyrese Gibson. Plus, a digital copy of the film.

Movie: 2.5 stars out of four
Extras: 3.5 stars

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