Hot wheels on top gear… Fast & Furious 5 review
Don’t rub your eyes. In fact, prepare yourself to be left wide-eyed. Fast & Furious 5: Rio Heist, the fifth installment in the increasingly tiresome and repetitiously unimaginative series of the Fast & Furious films, hits the ground with such ferocity that one can’t help be caught absolutely unawares and left gobsmacked. The sometimes Vin Diesel headlining, other times Paul Walker top billed Fast & Furious films have always been low on content, high on thrills… and it is the same case this time around as well. After all, the objective of the films in this series is not building characters that we grow to care about or weave a story that we are invested in; but to fetishize the sweet smell of burning rubber and the bass drone of a car engine being revved up at top speeds. This is video-game animated on screen; sequels are like levels.
Where Fast & Furious 5: Rio Heist trumps over all the previous films of the franchise, is in its embracing of its stupid raison d’etre and going all out in having fun with its subject. After all, why even bother putting on a pretense of seriousness when all you really want is a threadbare plot with a few incidents that propel the film to the next car-chase or drag-race. And so, director Lin, getting it absolutely right in his third straight Fast & Furious outing, never has any of his characters string together a sentence of more than five words at any given time.
Vin Diesel and Paul Walker reprise their roles from the earlier films as street racer Dom and cop Brian. This film takes place somewhere between the timeline of the fourth and the third installments. Which means that as the film begins, Dom is in jail, as he was at the end of the fourth film; and the action hasn’t moved yet to Tokyo, where the third part Tokyo Drift took place. But one needn’t be aware of the chronology of these films. The knowledge isn’t going to improve or hamper the experience of watching a batch of cars being stolen off a speeding train by a truck driving parallel to it and torching the freight so that the cars flip onto the truck! It doesn’t end there… our stealers drive off in these cars as well.
It is this gleeful, physics-be-damned approach, enough to leave Rajnikanth with a complex, which makes this fifth installment such a joy. ‘Mindless’ is an adjective recklessly bandied around by less deserving commercial flicks. This one (aptly titled just Fast Five in the west, not the longer Asian variation) wears that tag proudly… in essence becoming a film of posturing and gravity-defying action for a generation where ‘activity’ comes with a speed limit to break. Even a few seconds saved on speaking the title out matters.
- Abhishek Bandekar