As the opening sequence to Fast Five reaches its astonishingly stupid payoff — a prisoner transport bus tumbling over and over in a “rescue” mission — The Onion’s satiric conceit that the film was scripted by a 5-year-old doesn’t seem too far off. If it technically misses by a few degrees, that’s not just understandable; it’s aesthetically preferable. Because nothing regarding Fast Five would make more sense than discovering that two enthusiastic 15-year-old boys raised on the worst Hollywood blockbusters had penned its screenplay. A movie as nonsensical, aimlessly energetic and full of testosterone as Fast Five is borne of the kind of adolescent enthusiasm whose creative process is propagated by questions that start with “Wouldn’t it be cool if …”
Ridiculous from start to finish in nearly every respect, Fast Five is fueled by copious amounts of hammy acting, macho posing and the kind of trash-talking banter that passes for comic relief in big, dumb action pictures like this. But even big, dumb action flicks need at least a trace amount of wit to be entertaining.
Quite the opposite, Fast Five functions as a kind of black hole from which no intelligence can escape. The event that sets Fast Five’s dominos in motion — an auto heist gone bad — makes no sense. Training sessions are filmed and then forgotten about. A mid-movie ambush arrives with nary a justification except to recruit an unlikely ally. Suspension of disbelief becomes impossible. To explain away absurd plot developments (a bank vault of the exact type being targeted is delivered to the gang’s hideout), team members casually make reference to mysterious past lives. And speaking of the lair: How is it that a giant warehouse big enough to comfortably hold a small fleet of cars is both a) so readily available and b) so undetectable?
When Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto vows revenge on the corrupt businessman who killed his brother, Fast Five turns into a cut-rate Ocean’s 11, reassembling main characters from previous entries in the series that started with 2001’s The Fast and the Furious.
Standing in their way are the businessman’s henchmen on one side, and a group of DSS federal agents led by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on the other. Johnson’s Lucas Hobbs is all square-jawed, barking, cartoonish masculinity, as is the rest of his muscle-bound, tight-shirt-wearing crew, whose attire suggests they would be just as comfortable in an ultra lounge as they are arresting perps.
A quien es mas macho stare-off between Toretto and Hobbs quickly turns into a parody of itself as it becomes a competition to see who can twitch the most facial muscles. The nostril flares, clenched jaws and quivering upper lips eventually give way to an all-out brawl in which walls are destroyed and glass is shattered, but neither of the combatants suffer so much as a bruise.
All of that silliness pales next to the movie’s piece de resistance: the preposterous sight of a bank vault, filled top to bottom with millions of dollars, being hauled through the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Defying physics and common sense, the sequence features two cars that are somehow able to drag the vault while outrunning their pursuers — and avoid having their frames and undercarriages ripped away. Instead of being thrilling, the sequence is simply exhausting.
Every time a character has to remind the audience just how crazy audacious their plan is, and with each camera sweep across the iconic Christ the Redeemer, we’re reminded that the only things coming fast and furious in this entry are the clichés.