Thursday, October 13, 2016

Curiouser and Furiouser: A Fast and Furious Watch - Part 5: Fast Five

Just to recap: I am watching all the Fast and Furious movies having never seen them before and without any knowledge of what they are about. This is the fifth part of my series, you can view from the beginning Here. On to the review.

What in the heck did I just watch?! I don't mean this in a negative way, not at all, but having just seen 4 previous Fast and Furious movies I can't even say that this is a "Fast and Furious" movie. I mean, obviously it is, obviously this is the direction the new movies are going in, but after just watching 4 movies that basically have the same exact plot this one REALLY came out of left field. Which was refreshing. Watching a completely different movie was definitely refreshing, but man oh man it was SO unexpected especially since I just watched the 4th installment the other day. The characters have completely new and different skill sets, the entire plot was completely different, everything about this movie was new. Justin Lin, who once again directs this installment, really went all out on this film 

Our story begins exactly where the last one left off, with Brian, Mia, and the two guys who helped them before (whose names I still do not know) driving alongside the prison transport truck that is hauling Dom off to a lifelong sentence. Two guesses how that turns out. It ends in a bus rolling over multiple times at high speed with apparently nobody getting any injuries and Dom and co driving off into the sunset. We see news reports of the breakout, featuring several local LA newscasters I recognized, in what I think was the first time the events of the movies made any kind of impact on the in-world national consciousness. Dom, Brian and Mia are now wanted criminals and their names are splashed around on the cover of newspapers etc. Already this changes the shape and scope of the film from something that takes place in a very limited microcosm of street racers, the cops that hunt street racers, and gang members who control the street racing crews, to something that is on the national or international stage. When next we find our favorite anti-heroes, they are in Rio. The sweeping helicopter shots of the city are gorgeous, and it immediately strikes me that this movie must have been FAR more expensive to make than its predecessors.
Guys I'm pretty sure this shot cost more than the first movie

Checking the internet I see that the budget for this film was a whopping 125 million: 40 million more than Tokyo Drift and Fast & Furious and nearly 90 million more than the first movie. Well no wonder it looks better. Even before we get to the actors' salaries, which certainly increased with the addition of more names, the set pieces, the action sequences, etc looks more impressive, more expensive, bigger. The shots of Mia and Brian as they wander the slums of Rio recalled to mind scenes from other big budget films like Mission Impossible. It turns out that that was a fairly apt comparison, even before I realized it.

Mia and Brian wander into a Brazilian slum and are surrounded by gunmen, but it looks like they know who leads them, though who this could be I have no idea until out pops Vince, aka mesh vest bro from the first movie!! Wow I had no idea he was going to turn up again.
Apparently in addition to ditching his early 2000s era mesh vests, Vince has a beard and a family now! Awww. His baby is really cute. Everybody catches up inside of Vince's house but then Mia excuses herself to go throw up. Of course in movies women never have the stomach flu and it is obvious that she is preggers. Go Brian! Go Mia! BABIES!!! Vince tells the two about a job that he knows is coming up. They are uncertain about taking it, but they look like they are in pretty rough shape and could probably use the money.  

Apparently they agree and we see them next aboard a train travelling through the Brazilian is there a place in Brazil that looks like this because this scene was clearly not shot in Brazil. Anyway, back to business: stealing DEA seized cars from a moving train. Oh so this is a heist movie now? Yes, Fast Five is a straight up heist movie, but a cool one. Vince pulls up in a cool dune buggy thing with his crew and then they carve a hole in the side of the train with a plasma torch deal. While it is moving.
Crazy moving train action nonsense
Damn. The dudes jump into the train and its DOM! who has a little reunion with his sis and Brian. Then one of the other guys gets into one of the cars and somehow the truck pulls it on to the back and lowers it down. Super super complicated shit. But things look kind of weird to Dom, and he suspects something is up with this heist when he overhears two of the guys talking to each other. When it is Mia's turn he tells her to drive the car in the opposite direction of the other guy. His suspicions turn out to be correct and the guys on the crew work for the big drug lord boss guy and everything turns to shit. There are explosions, shooting, crazy, crazy stuff. Dom straight up dives a car off the train and rescues Brian and then the two of them drive the car off of the bridge and jump out to safety. There are some crazy Mission Impossible-esque elements in the action.

 Also Mission Impossible-esque: the next scene finds Dom and Brian hanging by their wrists in some warehouse or something. You know... that scene that happens in literally every single movie about a spy where a guy is chained by his wrists to the ceiling in a dimly lit warehouse and some henchmen beat them up. I think there is a whole page for it on TV tropes. The big cartel boss Reyes is played by Joaquim de Almeida, that one actor who has played a big cartel boss in probably 6 or 7 movies/ TV shows including 24 and Desperado. It just feels right he is the big boss in this movie. At any rate they don't get the info they are looking for and Reyes leaves and Dom and Brian escape, 'natch, because they are like super spies now I guess and not just street racers or street racing police people. The only thing we learn from this scene is that there is something in the car that Mia stole that these drug people want back.

 It is at this point that we are introduced to Hobbs, a federal agent played by The Rock. Hobbs is a fucking hardcore action hero bad ass. Of course he is, he is played by The Rock. But his entrance into this franchise is really pivotal. Up until this point, the people who have been hunting Dom and Brian have been kind of been ineffectual cops or Feds like Captain Dexter's Dad or that chubby black guy that Brian used to work for. One of his very first lines is "Get the fuck out of my way" which I think is the first F bomb in the series, though don't hold me to that. This isn't a guy who plays around, that much is clear. Two DEA agents are dead back on that train and Dom and Brian are the only suspects. He is going to track them down no matter what it takes.

The FF crew are blissfully unaware, just trying to recoup, when Vince decides to sneak into the garage and steal a chip that was inside one of the cars. Dom angrily confronts him about going behind their back to which Vince replies that nobody ever listens to him and Dom always turns things to shit which like, I dunno.. isn't exactly wrong. They part ways not on the best of terms and then Brian uses his hacking? skills to figure out what was on the chip. Oh so they are hackers now. Neat.  It turns out what is on the chip are details about all the drop spots for this drug dealer guy.  This seems like a bad thing to keep on a GPS chip, but as we learned in Fast & Furious we are in the future now and in the future everyone has high end GPS instead of that dumb map Brian had to use in the first movie. Remember when Brian had to use an actual paper map to find a location?  Ah.. memories.

The Rock rolls into the favela to get the FF crew and Vince's helper dudes pull guns on him but he has bigger guns and then the drug dealers come and they start shooting and everybody is running away and... hell, this was a very confusing action sequence.
 Everybody is shooting at everybody else and The Rock like straight up breaks a dudes neck and stabs a guy.  I have been watching this movie for about 35 minutes now and there have been MAYBE 5 minutes of cars.  You'd think we would get more cars in an FF movie, but apparently not anymore.  Anyway, they kind of protect the lady cop who has been helping the Rock and now she starts to have second thoughts about whether the FF crew are really bad or whether they shouldn't be going after these drug dealers instead, but The Rock has a really big hard on for capturing Vin Diesel.  Apparently the FF crew was stealing that gas in Fast & Furious to just give it away for free like some Robin Hood shit, and it doesn't jive with lady cop that they would be killers now, but Rock isn't buying it.  Well that explains why they were stealing gas at any rate. Wonder why they couldn't have mentioned that at SOME point in the 4th movie.

Anyway, back to our heroes.  After escaping, Brian and Mia reveal that they are expecting and Uncle Dom is all excited.
God I love this man
 Brian is worried that he will be a shitty dad like his was, but Dom assures him he will be a good dad.  Lots of cute dad feels. They then decide they should just use the chip they got from the car for one last job: use the GPS coordinates to find Reyes' money spots and steal all his money.  This is a big job, though and they are going to need a team.  SO THEY RECRUIT EVERYBODY!!! Han! Roman! Ludacris! Gisele!  Those dudes from before! Yay!  The very first thing that Han does on screen is eat some chips and I am so freaking pumped.  Who will eat more, I wonder: Roman or Han?  These are the questions that deserve answers.  Unfortunately, Roman and Dom don't really like each other and kind of get off on the wrong foot.  He's ready to bail until they find out that the score is 100 million and his share would be 11 million dollars.  "11 million sounds like a whole lot of vaginal activity to me," Roman says unironically.  Vaginal activity.  I can't even with this guy.

On to the plan.  Step one: they go into one of the drug dealer's places wearing masks and carrying guns.  Step two: they light all the money on fire.  Step three: profit... ?  Then they take their masks off revealing who they are for some reason.  Why?!  I don't understand this plan at all until I see that Reyes is super pissed and decides to move all his money and the crew plan to take it when it is on the move.
Um... what now? 
 Ah ok, I get it now.  This is why they need street racers: to go after the cars.  But then instead of going after the cars, they.. don't?  Roman spots the cars on the road transporting the money and is literally eating a sandwich and has to swallow before he reports this very important information.  God love Tyrese his constant eating.  Anyway the money is now being brought to a police station.  Dom says this changes nothing.  Um.. I think it changes at least something, right?  I thought you got this crew together for street racing purposes.  "This went from mission impossible to mission insanity," says Roman.  Tyrese really gets all the best/ dumbest lines in this movie, but he isn't wrong.  Hobbs meanwhile is following all of these developments because apparently he has some kind of magical computers that can run facial recognition on people wearing masks.  Though he doesn't know what is really happening.   Neither do I, to be honest.

Roman gets sent into the building in disguise as a special agent and distracts the dude in the evidence locker with his non stop talking trying to get in to see the safe that the guy doesn't notice that he has just accepted a random box from a stranger.  The random box opens up inside the safe and out pops a cute little robot that Ludacris made because he makes robots apparently.  Ludacris also apparently knows
about safes.  "I had a life before you knew me," he says, hand waving away any questions about how he went from owner of a body shop/ street racing crew organizer to master safe cracker, but whatever.  He did do that cool thing in 2 Fast where he made the bridge go up and down so it is clear he has always had a lot of technological know how.  Whatever, he is the "tech" guy now.  They are all sitting around the plans and Roman is eating graham crackers.  At this point I think Tyrese is eating more than Han.  Then the crew put a bomb in the bathroom of the police station, which explodes while the poor evidence locker guy is taking a shit, and the two dudes from before go in as the cleaning crew to hook into the security cameras which is also a thing they apparently know how to do.

"Let's go get some cars," Brian says, finally.  Yay!  Here we go, at a booty shaking street-racing dance party.  Finally things are familiar to me.  "Home sweet home," says Dom.  Oh no but they are recognized since they are international criminals who also robbed the biggest drug lord in town.  The street racing crew leader says its okay to race, though.  What a nice guy.  They get to race for the new cars they need.  I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for an actual street race when... nope, they just cut to them already having the cars.  In a Fast and Furious movie they literally just cut the actual race.  I am just... what is this movie?  They do get to test the cars out though, so there is SOME driving at least.  They are trying to find a car that can drive faster than the security cameras.  Gisele does the best, and Han is watching her with interest.  "I think I'm in love," Han says.  Ugh.  Whatever.  Why did they take away all the gay vibes Han was putting off.

 Also, about Han... they still have yet to explain how he escaped from that fiery crash in Japan.  I
mm chips
guess we will get to that eventually?  I don't know.  Anyway now it is Han's turn.  Han is eating at the bar (Eating score: Han 2, Roman 2) and Gisele intuits that Han recently quit smoking which is why he is always doing something with his hands.  She says it was the same for her when she got out of the Army.  BACKSTORY!  Han is hard core falling in love as Gisele goes up to Roman and flirts with him enough for him to grab her ass.  Then they somehow pull the hand print off of her swimsuit so they can get into the safe.  This whole thing is so very very Mission Impossible.

Eventually they decide that trying to out drive the cameras is sort of stupid so they just steal themselves some cop cars which makes much more sense.  FINALLY we get a proper street race with Han, Dom, Brian and Roman racing in police cars, which makes them very happy.  Roman is too busy playing with the lights and stuff and Han is probably distracted thinking of Gisele or something so the race comes down to Dom and Brian, and Dom lets Brian win, though Brian isn't aware that he did.  Han and Roman notice, though, and think it is hilarious. The next day, Mia is shopping in the market and Vince runs into her and pulls her away just before the bad guys spot her.  Apparently there was a tracker on her.  She brings Vince back to the crew and he asks Dom if he can join the heist and Dom says they are family etc and I am 100% predicting Vince is going to turn out to be some Bro-dus Iscariot.
Look at Rambo over here
 Mia reveals her pregnancy to the rest of the gang, which explains why she wasn't drinking etc and they laugh and it is all very heartwarming and is of course immediately interrupted by the police.  Dom and Hobbs fight and Dom eventually gets the upper hand but decides not to actually just kill Hobbs with a wrench and they are all arrested.  Unfortunately, Reyes' crew ambushes the armored car and a gun battle follows.  Grenades are exploding all over the place, guns firing, legit action movie territory.  Dom rescues Hobbs and pulls him to the safety of the armored car.  They kill SO many people, Jesus Christ.  This is bar none the most violent scene in all 5 movies so far.  They retreat to relative safety, but Vince isn't going to make it.  He tells Dom to look after his son, also named Dominic (aww feels), right before he dies.  I was totally wrong on him being a traitor.  Sorry I ever doubted you, Vince.

Dom wants to continue on and everybody is a little wary until Hobbs says he is in because he wants to kill the son of a bitch who killed his men.  Ah yes, the old ancient proverb: The bronemy of my bronemy is my bro.  Apparently the idea that Hobbs, a US Federal Agent, could just rob a Brazilian police station, as corrupt as it is, without creating an international incident is just fine by everybody.  They break through the wall and basically just attach the safe via two wires attached to two of the police cars, driven by Dom and Brian, who drive away.  So they are driving down the street with this safe dragging behind them, taking out trees, taking out other cars, just wanton destruction of property. This entire scene is insanity.
I just... what? 
 I have no fucking clue how they think they can evade police with a several ton safe just dragging behind them.  The rest of the crew is kind of running interference on the police/ drug dealers or something, ramming cars left and right.  Dom and Brian realize their plan of driving a gigantic safe around is probably not the best idea and they aren't going to get out of this.  Dom reminds Brian that he is going to be a father now and cuts him loose, using nitrous in his car to pull the weight of the safe behind his own car alone so Brian can get to safety.  They do this under a little overpass deal.  Dudes in roof mounted machine guns are firing at Dom and then his car flips dramatically and crashes into Reyes' car.  Hobbs rolls in and shoots Reyes and then tells Dom that he can't just let him go, but he will give him 24 hours to get out of down.  Of course Hobbs is going to take the safe so I think that all of this was for nothing until the lady cop opens the door and it is empty.  Dun DUN DUUUUNNN.

Yes, apparently the safes were swapped during that 30 seconds under the overpass and later, when they are all together again, Ludacris opens the safe and like Scrooge McDuck fucking piles of money pour out.  Dom leaves some for Vince's wife and kid and the group go their separate ways.  The two idiot driver guys (WHOSE NAMES I STILL DO NOT KNOW) lose all their money in Monaco like a couple of dinguses.  Ludacris uses the money to get a nice little shop for himself to live a quieter life and then Tyrese rolls up to visit him in this hot car with a hot babe inside.  Apparently he got it from a sheikh in Abu Dabi and it is the only one in the Western Hemisphere.. or IS it, because Ludacris apparently has the exact same ridiculous car.  Lol.  Meanwhile Han makes out with Gisele while driving, which doesn't seem very safe.  "I thought you wanted to go to Tokyo," Gisele asks.  "We'll get there eventually," Han replies.  Wait... is this movie still supposed to take place BEFORE Tokyo Drift? I mean I was under the impression that he like faked his death and somehow made it to Rio or
Lookin' good Billy Ray!
something, but now they are saying this is all a prequel?!  How can this movie take place before Tokyo Drift when Han is obviously older?  Or are they saying he is going to go BACK to Tokyo? Is Han a time traveler? I DON'T UNDERSTAND! Brian and Mia are on a beach together and Dom shows up with lady cop who is his girlfriend I guess and this whole thing reminds me of the end of Trading Places. Everybody is so happy.  Awww.  Brian asks for one final race to settle it once and for all (sure, they will NEVER race again) and... credits.  But wait!  There is a mid credits scene!  Is it Nick Fury asking them to join the Avengers?!  No.. it is Hobbs with Eva Mendes! who tells him that there was a robbery in Berlin.  "Was it Toretto?" Hobbs asks (man he REALLY doesn't like Dom).  No, it turns out the person in the robbery is... Letty!?! WHAAAAAAAAT!

Stray Thoughts:

- Letty?????? I am really struggling to figure out her motivations for faking her own death other than... cuz.

- Ok but really is Han a time traveler???

- So I still haven't seen Batman v Superman and I didn't know who Gal Gadot was when I saw Fast & Furious.  Now that I know Gisele is Wonder Woman I am like... meh?  I dunno. Her character was super boring in the 4th movie and in this movie she was nothing but eye candy and also like this plot device to prove that Han was straight or something.

- I am glad that a lot of the characters got some more depth but this movie makes it SO obvious that this series wasn't planned up until this point. Now that the movies ARE more clearly connected to each other, maybe narratively they will make a little more sense.  HAHAHA who am I kidding?  I don't like these movies for rational reasons.

- Ok so Ludacris' song during the end credits "Furiously Dangerous" was SO painfully bad.  You can do better than this, Ludacris.

- It seems so strange that just 2 months ago I had never seen a Fast and Furious movie and now I have seen 5.  Moving on to Fast and Furious 6 next week.  I hope it will be just as batshit insane as this one.

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