Plot: What’s it about?
If there is one franchise that seems to have beaten the odds, it’s the Fast and Furious series. The original surprised many when it opened back in 2001, but didn’t appear to be a film that has, to this day spawned five sequels (a 7th film is in the works). Paul Walker was the only star from the original to return to the first sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious, but the third film, Tokyo Drift failed to bring back any of the original stars. 2009 they went back to their roots and we got Fast and Furious. That film had a huge box office gross and it was clear audiences weren’t tired of these films; they just wanted a proper sequel. We have 2011’s Fast Five. The film begins with Dom (Vin Diesel) being transported to prison. Former undercover agent Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) plans a daring escape for Dom. It’s a success and from there the crew plans a huge heist. There is no problem recruiting a team when they learn it’s a $100 million payout. This time, agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is hot on their trail. It’s clear that the plan with this film was to try something new. We only get one major car chase. This film plays out more as a height film rather than a film about street racing.
It was a smart move to bring Johnson on board for this sequel. It adds a level of suspense and creates a strong opponent for Dom and his crew. In fact, one of the film’s best sequences is a fight scene between Johnson and Diesel. Hobbs is after Dom and Brian because of the murder of a few DEA agents on the train Dom escapes Dom. Dom did not murder the agents, but as far as Hobbs is concerned, he did. The film also spends an awful lot of time with supporting characters. This can be confusing at first, especially to those who started with this film. The film isn’t strongly connected to the earlier films, but a lot of the characters have histories together and they’re relations are carried over. The film has a lot going on plot wise, but it is really just an excuse for the exciting action set pieces. There are more than enough to satisfy action fans, including a shootout in Rio and a climax on a busy interstate.
I still prefer the original film best and the latest entry, Fast and Furious 6, but this is certainly one of the better sequels. The film is a bit on the long side, but never stalls too much. While none of these guys will ever win an Oscar for their work here, the acting is at least good enough, especially for this kind of film. I was involved from beginning to end and I appreciate that they took this in a new direction. The film has a lot of fun with the planning of the height itself and the characters interactions. It’s actually quite funny at times. I was reminded a bit of the Oceans Eleven remake. It’s also nice to see a film like this not take itself so seriously. There are quite a number of over-the-top sequences, but the film knows this. It doesn’t pretend to be anything more. It establishes the perfect tone throughout. Director Justin Lin does a good job at keeping the action coherent. It’s never edited in such a way where we can’t follow it. I’m not sure how many more sequels we will get, but this is a more than welcome entry. Be sure to stick around through the end credits for a nice little surprise leading into the next entry.
Video: How does it look?
Fast Five comes to Bluray in an AVC encoded 1080 P, 2.35:1 transfer. This is a pretty top notch transfer, colors are accurate, no traces of grain or other defects. You can clearly see the beads of sweat on Johnson’s head in a number of sequences. I was also able to make out exactly where his hairline begins (sue me). There are also a number of day scenes that are equally effective. This is also a very clean print. I couldn’t detect any defects of any sort.
Audio: How does it sound?
We get a rocking 5.1 DTS HD master track. This is one that will likely rattle a picture on the wall or shake nearby furniture pieces. I had no trouble hearing any of the dialogue in the quieter scenes, but the action scenes are demo worthy. All the channels get fair play and everything comes across nice and strong. I really can’t find anything negative to say. When glass shatters and bullets start to fly, you can hear every drop. All told, everything remained clean and clear as well.
Supplements: What are the extras?
We start off with the option to watch either the theatrical cut or the extended cut, there’s only about a minutes difference so the extended cut is the safe bet. Next, we get an audio commentary track with director Justin Lin. This is a pretty good track. It covers the basic notes such as casting, locations and the goal with this film. We also get some picture in picture features taking advantage of the U-Control feature. This is a pretty nice companion piece if you want to break away during the movie. It features tons of interviews with the cast and crew. We get two short deleted scenes and a gag reel. Neither of these did much for me. Lastly we get a number of small features, totaling close to an hour worth of footage. “A new set of wheels” (10:00) basically goes over the vehicles used for the film. “reuniting the team” (5:00) this shows the actors all coming back together for this film. “Dom’sJourney” (5:00) is basically the journey this character goes through. “Brian O’Connor: FromFed to Con” (6:00) explains the path this character takes. We then have two features (“Dom vs. Hobbs” and “Enter Federal Agent Hobbs”) about agent Hobbs. These both last about 8 minutes. These give background to this character and what Johnson brought to the role. We then have two more features about the vault chase and a profile on director Lin. The film also has several features that can be synced to your iPad or mobile device. I didn’t bother with these. There’s also a code for a UV digital copy and an iTunes version as well. This comes housed in a slipcover repeating the Blu-ray cover art.
I believe earlier prints also included a DVD copy. My copy did not.