He Said – She Said … ‘Fast Five’

Fast Five

Directed by: Justin Lin
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris
Running Time: 2 hr 10 mins
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: April 29, 2011

PLOT: Dom (Diesel) and Brian (Walker) get put on the top of the Feds most wanted list after a prison break and dead DEA agents. They two bring a gang of drivers together to pull one last job in Rio De Janeiro.

Fast Five is on its way to being the first film of 2011 to reach the $200 million mark. And before last weekend’s opening of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, it had the biggest opening of the year for any film with $86.1 million. Domestically, it has hauled in $506.1 million dollars worldwide. Not bad for a movie that’s not in 3D.

For this episode of “He Said – She Said,” we look a little closer into the action phenomenon that is Fast Five, an immediate winner for the Fast and Furious franchise and of course the suits at Universal. Nick Allen was charged up with mental NOS throughout the entire movie, while Megan Lehar felt a little bit differently.

As always, plot spoilers are fair game, so it is recommended you see the film before reading on. Go!

He Said

I don’t know yet what you think of Fast Five, but I have a feeling that you at least liked it. After all, you like movies, and as a person who likes movies, you must have been caught up in some way within the high octane glory of Fast Five, a great sequel to a franchise that no one actively cares about.

If you couldn’t tell already, I really enjoyed Fast Five in all of its magnitude. The acting is hilarious, the lines were very amusing, and the action worked on the level of The Dark Knight more than any regular action movie. Its action scenes were meticulously engineered, and embraced the idea of logic only when it looked cool. But sending the guys with a car over a cliff? Sure, they’ll do it. Or dragging a bank vault around with two cars and two chains? Yeah, it’ll be done.

For a movie like Fast Five, the film gives the audience everything they paid for, and even more. Its length makes it feel like its never going to end, which is wonderful. Its a movie that you don’t want to stop.

So really, what did you think of it? And what is your general thought on the “franchise” as a whole?

She Said

I was one of the few people who really wanted to see The Fast and the Furious before it was released. I fell in love with Vin Diesel after seeing Pitch Black and really liked Michelle Rodriguez after Girlfight so I was excited about the movie and it totally exceeded my expectations. When the second and third movies got rid of Vin Diesel, I couldn’t understand it. He IS the draw. The fourth one brought him back, but unfortunately killed off Rodriguez’s character which totally sucked. After seeing the trailer for Fast Five, I knew I had to see it opening weekend.

The opening scene was brilliant, with the whole driving sports cars off a train and Diesel and Paul Walker going all Thelma and Louise. But unfortunately, the movie kind of dragged in the middle. Like you, I felt it was never going to end, but not in a good way. Anything about Walker and Jordana Brewster’s characters put me to sleep and I didn’t care for most of the other members of the heist team. Thank God for The Rock, his awesomeness and amazing line delivery really improved the film. There just wasn’t enough of him. But man, that scene where the Rock and Diesel fight it out, that was hot.

I totally agree about the ending though. Dragging a bank vault between two cars? Awesome. Pretty much every moment focused around racing was amazing.

But really, you didn’t get bored with the plot in the middle? Or the emptiness behind Paul Walker’s eyes?

He Said

No, I didn’t really get bored with the plot in the middle. You see, for Fast Five, there was always, always, always something going on to me. The middle might have lacked some straight-up action, but it did have the other goods that the franchise has to offer, from cars being driven really fast to girls walking in slow motion in bikinis to dumb, dumb dialogue. (It was hilarious when no one in my theater responded at the line, “This has gone from mission impossible, to mission in-freakingsanity!”) The Rock (or “Dwayne Johnson,” as he prefers to be called) spiced up these moments with some great dialogue of his own, like “Gimme the veggies,” and other lines that you aren’t sure whether they are meant to be taken serious or not, but you love them anyway. It was consistently amusing, even when the other characters in the heist troupe had their own moments in the spotlight.

Yes, “the emptiness behind Paul Walker’s eyes.” I don’t think anyone will get upset if I go out on this limb and say that Paul Walker is a terrible actor, and so is Vin Diesel. The Fast and Furious franchise is what made them relevant, and it’s the only thing that will keep them relevant in Hollywood until there are no more. (They’re lucky about this re-boot business). After all, would we want to watch them in anything else? Could we? This is rhetorical question, because the answer is obviously no.

That alone kept me on board with this movie, the sheer inner-giggle I had to myself about their extremely limited potential but ironic big box office success. After all, the Fast and Furious franchise strikes me as a bit of a franchise anomaly – we don’t care about the main characters, we don’t remember the names, but when these movies come out, they are enjoyed in droves (by action junkies and general moviegoers alike).

One thing I loved about Fast Five was its impulse for an action. Whenever it could, it would. And it consistently topped itself, and it became consistently surprising. That rocket launcher gun battle in the streets? What’s up with that!? Either way, that was truly awesome.

Something that I thought was interesting about Fast Five was its Rio de Janiero fanaticism. I had the same question watching Rio from last week. Even though the city was given a lot of exposure, do you think it was shown in a particularly favorable light? Is the city’s subliminal plan working on selling the spot as a fun place for tourists? Seems like it’s been looking pretty crime-heavy to me.

She Said

I must be hard to please because there just wasn’t enough action in the middle. I was disappointed when they decided to race for slips the filmmakers didn’t show the race. Seriously? Fast and the Furious with no drag racing? I was very disappointed. You’re totally correct about the ludicrous dialogue, and The Rock sold those lines like nobody’s business. The girls in bikinis did nothing for me, quite frankly, considering it was Brazil I think you got a little bit gypped.

But I absolutely must disagree with you about Vin Diesel’s acting. He was great in both Boiler Room and Pitch Black. Beyond that, he also has a ton of charisma. He’s been in some real stinkers (pretty much everything besides the above movies and the original The Fast and the Furious) but I love him still. Whereas Paul Walker might just be a cardboard cutout, I’m not totally sure. Watch Pitch Black, look into his mirror reflective eyes and tell me he’s not a star.

So when you say that Fast Five and the films that spawned it had success ironically, I’m surprised. Driving fast is really awesome, NASCAR’s huge in the US and Formula One’s really popular in the rest of the world. We live in a car obsessed country and sometimes forget their awesome potential for being totally kickass. What surprises me is that more people don’t try to make car movies. Add one (or two) action stars with muscles and charisma and just have fun.

I was wondering about Rio too. Not the movie, but the locale. Brazilians can’t be happy to have their country shown as a lawless no man’s land with gunrunners, institutionalized corruption and bank vaults being run down streets. It looks like the wild west. The animated Rio showed more realistic troubles, animal smuggling and homeless street children. Still, neither will be endorsed by the tourism board anytime soon. In fact, “Brazil” looked a lot like southern California with a lot of helicopter shots of Rio spliced in (IMDB seems to back me up on this).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there was nothing good in this film. Fast Five had two of the best car chase sequences I’ve ever seen, a fabulous homoerotic smackdown and all the Vin Diesel I could hope for. I just wanted more, perfection that requires only about 20% of my brain cells (the fun ones).

He Said

I will watch Pitch Black and get back to you. I haven’t seen it. And I must admit that I did forget Vin Diesel did Boiler Room, which I think is OK, but I don’t remember his performance in it. Regardless, perhaps I could maintain my argument by saying that Fast Five is the only thing that Walker and Diesel have going now, that’s keeping them relevant. Diesel has nothing lined up in his IMDb page, and Walker has two other movies. But then again, Walker made the craptacular Takers, so maybe it’s safe to assume Walker has nothing much on his side except his character from the Fast and Furious trilogy.

I think it’s time to wrap this one up. What score would you give this movie?

She Said

Yeah, I don’t think anyone in this movie had to put a hold on any other projects. But I wouldn’t count Vin Diesel out. I’d give this movie a 6, great on DVD, just pretty good in the movie theater. But the two big action scenes make up a 7, if it didn’t have the rest of the movie in the middle.

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