Fast Five

Fast Five ★★★★½

"I hear Rio is nice this time of the year"

- Letty Toretto in Fast and Furious 4

There's only 2 franchises currently obsessed with topping each of its installment - The Mission Impossible movies and the F&F movies. And what's even greater about both is that there's no preexisting source material for the filmmakers to reference - they're making it all up as they go along, so the audience has no real preconceived expectations. You dont have to be a fan of these movies, but goddamnit they're a necessity in our ever homogenized tentpole landscape!

Director Justin Lin and writer Chris Morgan took the samurai angle from Tokyo Drift and peppered it all over Fast Five. Now you can dismiss these as dumb car movies (they can be gloriously dumb), but these characters are street samurai with cars as their swords. Samurai always believed their swords were their soul, thus a broken sword meant a broken soul!

No more neon or flash this time, it's now about function over fashion. Every vehicle is an extension of each character. The 10-ton Gurkha is an absurdly large and indestructible force, just like Hobbs. Dom's Charger is integral to his story: its the car that killed his father; even Mia says in the fourth one that it's a cursed car; when we see it in Five, the blower is removed from the hood as if to communicate that Dom has driven all the way to South America under a low profile! The Charger is like a constantly rejuvenating entity surviving trains and tunnel collisions. So when Hobbs rams into the Charger, he knows the significance of that car to Dom. Hobbs is literally going after Dom's soul in that moment!

That's why Reyes (the big baddie Dom's crew is robbing) leaves no lasting impact as a villain - he doesn't have a car to manifest his character; he's just some scummy overlord in an office who occasionally tortures his men who failed him so that the audience gets that he's the bad guy. The animosity Dom and Hobbs have is palpable; the latter is the clear antagonist of the story!

I still don't buy the "family" angle the latter movies keep shoving down the throat. To me, the camaraderie of Dom's crew is more akin to something like pirates: outlaws in pursuit of freedom, and in so doing find solidarity and trust among each other. The cast started out as a bunch of edgy youths, now they're ronin - masterless samurai answering to no one but themselves. Fast Five came out in 2011 so its safe to say it did Avengers Assemble a year before MCU did!

People bring up the now iconic vault heist and it's still great, but I think the train heist early on is just as remarkable. Lin and crew had to basically get permission to own a piece of working railroad for the train scene. They bought a train and built a monster truck for the heist. They had to endure 130 degrees of scorching sun filming the setpiece....all for our entertainment!

Oh yeah this is still the best in the series, and overall one of the best heist movies in all of cinema. It walks that fine line of improbability, whereas the latter installments reeled in impossibility. The goal should be improbability - believable enough to buy into, yet stupendous enough to feel like an otherworldly miracle!

P.S: I forget Eva Mendes shows up in the post-credit scene. Her undercover character Monica from 2Fast 2Furious was always interesting to me. Can you imagine if they made a love triangle subplot with her, Mia and Brian? Coz I mean Brian and Monica had a thing......I guess we'll never know, and thank goodness for that!

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