After their successful heist in Rio, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), Mia (Jordana Brewster), Han (Sung Kang), Gisele (Gal Gadot), Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), and Tej (Ludacris), have all gone into hiding. Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is investigating the destruction of a Russian military convoy, brought down by Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Hobbs approaches Toretto and asks for his help. Dom initially refuses but reconsiders when Hobbs shows him a recent photo of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) , currently a member of Shaw’s crew.
The Fast & Furious series has been an interesting one. It started out alright in The Fast and the Furious, then took a dive with 2 Fast 2 Furious, but has slowly grown in quality since Tokyo Drift, culminating in the fantastic Fast Five. Fast & Furious 6 maintains most of the elements that made Fast Five so entertaining while taking the franchise in a slightly new direction.
Most Fast & Furious movies have done well setting up the rest of the movie with the opening scene. This film starts with a montage consisting of scenes from every previous movie in the franchise. This does great to give you an idea of the history of the series, but also becomes more fitting as the movie goes on because every previous Fast & Furious movie is referenced. For those who have watched them all, it’s very gratifying. Even if you haven’t seen the other films, the story is still easily followed, you just won’t have the same rewarding experience.
Gibson has been the comedic relief of the series since he first appeared in 2 Fast 2 Furious. He had a few funny moments in Fast Five but mostly when he was bantering with Ludacris. However, he steals the spotlight this time around. He had many one-liners that were hilarious, particularly during the first half of the movie. Johnson was more humorous, too. Johnson can be funny as long as he has someone to play off of, which was missing in Fast Five. Now that he had Gibson opposite, he is much better.
For a series whose original premise was car racing and chases, Fast & Furious 6 has really moved away from that focus. There are still car chases (it wouldn’t be an action/Fast & Furious movie without them), but definitely fewer and more spaced out. The action is balanced between several types of action scenes, instead of mainly cars. Car sequences are used as a tool, rather than the central focus.
The climactic scene is one epic set piece. Few scenes come to mind that are as intense as cars chasing a plane on a runway while several fights are happening inside the plane’s cargo bay. On a side note, I know that movies tend to exaggerate, but if that runway existed in real life, I’m pretty sure it would have stretched from one end of Europe to the other.
Hobbs was such a great adversary for the gang in Fast Five. He had both the resources and stature to be a valid threat to the entire team, particularly Brian and Dominic. But as an ally, he doesn’t have the same appeal. It was great because Johnson and Gibson could riff off each other, but other than that, the character wasn’t as interesting when he is working with Dom and his crew rather than against them.
Fast & Furious 6 steps even further away from the series thin plot roots and offers a more character-centric story. Gibson shines as the comedic relief and Johnson’s humor is better since he can go back-and-forth with Gibson. Hobbs was much better against the team than with them. The final, climactic scene was one of the largest in recent memory and is an explosive ending befitting any great action movie. Fast & Furious 6 shows that it isn’t afraid to move away from the series simple origins and offers an experience unlike any in the series.
After Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) break Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) out of a prison transport bus, they rendezvous with Vince (Matt Schulze) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There, they are hunted by Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), one of the FBI’s toughest agents. At the same time, the most ruthless crime lord in Rio, Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), is looking for Dom and Brian. In order to gain their freedom, they call in some old friends to pull of one last job: a heist worth $100 million.
I was skeptical to see Fast Five. The previous movie, Fast & Furious, started to show the potential of what the series could be. It gave a shot of adrenaline into the franchise, so what I was interested in seeing was if this film could carry the momentum started in Fast & Furious. I’m glad I didn’t give up on the franchise after 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift, because Fast Five was more than I anticipated and kicked the franchise into a whole new level.
Dwayne Johnson is a strong addition to the cast. There is an underlying humor when he delivers his lines that makes it very enjoyable to watch him on screen. However, he doesn’t have anyone to play off of like in some of his other movies, so some of playfulness fades quickly. Hobbs as a character is a great adversary for the gang. He is physically strong and can match Dom punch for punch, and a federal agent, to make it personal against Brian. Add in Johnson’s wit and charm and you have one of the best antagonists in the series.
One of my favorite aspects of this film is how well the character relationships were displayed. The best moments were when Tej (Ludacris) and Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) were bantering. Tego (Tego Calderon) and Rico (Don Omar) had some great back-and-forth moments too. What wasn’t explored that well were the relationships between characters that haven’t interacted before. Tej and Roman were together in 2 Fast 2 Furious, and Tego and Rico were part of Dom’s crew in Fast & Furious. Other than when the entire group was together, characters from the different movies rarely interacted one-on-one. I think this was a missed opportunity and could have made for some of the more interesting moments in the movie.
I think what really made this movie for me was that at Fast Five maintains the essence of The Fast and the Furious, but it is primarily a heist movie. In the end when they finally do the heist, it is probably one of the greatest robbery chase scenes I have seen. Dom and Brian are towing a vault behind their cars. It made for a wild ride and some pretty serious destruction.
Most of the more memorable characters from the previous Fast & Furious movies return in Fast Five. One of the characters who returned didn’t have much screen time and seemed to disappear during most of the movie just as quickly as they appeared. Then, they became a casualty to give the team some more motivation. It felt like the death was unnecessary. I loath when characters are killed off simply to give gravitas to the situation. The character could have remained alive without greatly affecting the story.
Fast Five continues the energy that began in Fast & Furious. Johnson is a great addition to the cast and offers up humor to the character and a great foe for Dom and Brian. The character relationships were fleshed out, but only among those who appeared together previously. Fast Five is a great heist movie, but at its core, it still has all the elements that made the original The Fast and the Furious so entertaining.
For the rest of the Fast & Furious franchise, check out my reviews for The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast & Furious 6, and Furious 7.
Five years after leaving Los Angeles, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is hiding in Panama City after his new crew, which included Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Han (Sung Kang), Leo Tego (Tego Calderon), Rico Santos (Don Omar), and Cara Mirtha (Mirtha Michelle), disbanded. However, when his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) tells him Letty has been murdered, he returns to LA to find the killer. Meanwhile, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), now an FBI Agent, is tracking down a mysterious drug lord known as Braga. Toretto’s and O’Conner’s searches bring them together once again as they travel to Mexico to bring down Braga.
I have stopped having high hopes for the Fast and Furious franchise. The first movie was good, but the second and third installments I found lackluster. They had the cool car sequences that mad the The Fast and the Furious so enjoyable, but they lacked anything worth caring about. However, Fast & Furious looks like the franchise is back from its slump.
For one thing, there is an actual resemblance of a plot this time around. Although it is still just used as an excuse to show off fast cars and furious driving (heh, I made a funny), there was less focus on the cars and more on the characters. There were a few parts where I had to think about what was going on, something I didn’t expect I needed to do with this movie, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.
Fast & Furious goes back to its roots and begins with an exciting highway heist. This explosive opening set the tone for the rest of the film, just like in The Fast and the Furious. I think the absence of a thrilling starting sequence in 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift failed to set the tone they were looking for, so the expectations were set low early on. However, you know right away the mood for the rest of this film.
Brian O’Conner is the main focus of the movie. There is a lot more character work than I was expecting, which isn’t a bad thing. The film centers around the concept of is Brian a good guy disguised as a criminal or a criminal pretending to a good guy? It makes for an interesting dynamic in the film and is a much better character study for Brian than 2 Fast 2 Furious. Because there is more of a character focus, there aren’t as many car sequences as previous entries. There are still plenty, just not as much as frequent as before.
Fast & Furious brings the series out of its decline in quality. O’Conner’s character is at the center of the movie, which takes away from some of the action, but it’s a fair trade-off. An actual plot helps to set it above the previous films, and an exciting opening harkens back to the series’ past. The franchise is in good shape so long as it can continue the momentum started here.
After getting in trouble for street racing, Sean (Lucas Black) moves to Japan to live with his father (Brian Goodman). However, his obsession gets him involved with Tokyo’s underground world of drift racing. After getting horribly defeated by DK (Brian Tee), the best drifter in Tokyo, Han (Sung Kang) takes him under his wing and teaches Sean the art of drifting. He’s going to need all the help he can get when he falls for Neela (Nathalie Kelley), putting him in DK’s cross-hairs.
After the dip in quality between The Fast and the Furious and 2 Fast 2 Furious, I didn’t have high hopes for the series’ third outing. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift keeps with the quick action, great car sequences and shoddy acting. Honestly, I think my biggest problem with this movie is Lucas Black. He is monotonous and doesn’t show much emotion. The other actors, such as Sung Kang, Nathalie Kelley, and Brian Tee do much better, but when the lead actor is the weak link, your movie has a problem. The action sequences are still pretty good, especially a race throughout the streets of Tokyo between Han, Sean, and DK about two thirds through the film. It was refreshing to see a different setting, as well as a different style of racing. There is a cameo at the end that makes up for a lot of the missteps throughout the rest of the film. Tokyo Drift continues a series of fast action and thin plot, but has a different tone than previous entries, making it the most unique of the Fast and Furious films.
When FBI Agent Tom Lone (Terry Chen) gets murdered, his partner, Jack Crawford (Jason Statham), vows revenge. Several years later, Crawford finally catches up to his partner’s killer, the elusive assassin known as Rogue (Jet Li), and finds himself caught in the middle of a feud between two rival gangs.
War is your average action film, chock full of explosions and violence, with not much plot (at least until the end). Jet Li is one of my favorite action stars, and I have enjoyed many of Jason Statham’s movies, so it was fun to see them work together. If you enjoy any of Li’s or Statham’s other action movies, War is the movie for you.
Action sequences felt more believable than in other action movies. Not a lot of wire stunts were done (at leas t that I could see), so it added a sense of realism that usually isn’t present in movies containing martial arts. But then again, for two action stars know for their fighting skills, not a lot of it was on display. When Li and Statham finally meet, the fight felt a little lackluster. I think some of feeling was because I expected something more exaggerated from a fight between these two action heavyweights.
But throughout the rest of the film, there was a nice mix of action scenes, including hand-to-hand combat, gun battles, explosions, and a few sword fights. There was a little bit of everything. Most action films tend to have a camera style that is very jerky and utilizes quick cuts, but War did a good job of not following that convention. Shots were tight at times, but it wasn’t shaky, allowing the action to be easily visible without leaving the audience wondering what is happening.
With one character trying to play both sides, the plot can be hard to follow at times. I had some difficulty keeping up with who the character was working with/for, which made me lose interest in for a while. At the end, everything was explained, but it was a pain to get there. Also at the end there was a series of reveals that were pretty good and made the rest of the movie worthwhile.
It seems small, but something cool for the movie was the way the subtitles were done. Since one gang is Chinese and the other is Japanese, there are a lot of subtitles. To differentiate between the two languages, one was done in red and the other in yellow. As I said, it’s something small, but it’s a nice touch.
The action of War is much more realistic and not so over-the-top than other action films. The several plot twists and reveals at the end help make up for some of the shortcomings during the rest of the movie. Although War isn’t anything groundbreaking, it still offers all the break-neck action you could have hoped for.