Fast and Furious franchise not out of gas yet

Luke Walker and Vin Deisel go for a breakneck ride on a corvette in Fast Five, the latest installment in the Fast and Furious franchise.

Luke Walker and Vin Deisel go for a breakneck ride on a corvette in Fast Five, the latest installment in the Fast and Furious franchise.

There’s a certain freedom in knowing exactly what you’re going to get. A Big Mac sandwich, no matter where you order it in the world, is two patties, special sauce, lettuce, onions, pickles and a sesame seed bun. Certainly isn’t gourmet, but I know juuuuust what it’s going to taste like, and there’s comfort in that.

Same deal with a Fast and Furious movie. Profound, intellectual material frolics on some other playground. Here, it’s ridiculously fast cars, equally absurb muscled-up dudes, a whole lotta tattoos, babes and guns. Nothing more, nothing less. Like the aforementioned sandwich, it is junk food. But it’s also comfort food. And that’s not exactly a bad thing.

The really great news, the latest round for Vin Diesel and company … a fifth adventure in the series titled, conveniently enough, Fast Five, is extremely ambitious. Half the brains, but full throttle? Sounds par for the course with this crew.

Diesel, Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster return for Fast Five. At the beginning of the film, Dom (Diesel) is busted out of prison by his loyal sister Mia (Brewster) and cop-turned-antihero Brian (Paul Walker); it’s an absurd yet jaw-dropping opening to a movie that, thankfully, never really eases up on a rather peppy pace.

The trio flees to Rio, where the decision is made to rip off a drug kingpin (Joquim de Almeida), but first, they have to assemble a dream team; Tej (Ludacris), Han (Sung Kang), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Gisele (Gal Gadot) and the explosives/comedy relief duo of Leo and Santos (Tego Calderon and Don Omar). Rewind the tape on the Fast and Furious series, and each one of these characters has played a part in shaping the franchise — even though you’d probably have to be a big fan to realize that. Still, the concept carries a bit of an Ocean’s Eleven feel to it, and that’s kinda cool.

Oh, before I forget, there’s also a ruthless cop on the team’s trail, Luke Hobbs (Duane ‘The Rock’ Johnson). And if you’re thinking it would be fun to see the Rock slug it out with Diesel … you’re right, it is fun. Brief, but fun.

Fast Five isn’t plausible. I don’t even want to get into the finale … suffice to say, the law of physics are severely tested … but honestly, were you expecting anything less? The crazy thing is, Fast Five sets itself up for yet another sequel, and this thing is such a sweet shot of adrenaline, I don’t overly dread it. There’ll come a time when the vehicle is running on fumes, but it ain’t there yet.

Out of a possible five stars, I’ll give Fast Five a three and a half.

The feature is currently playing at the Pen-Mar Cinema Centre in Penticton.

Jason Armstrong is a movie reviewer living in the Okanagan.


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