Movie Review: “Fast Five”

Absurdly long, absurdly over the top and absurdly absurd, “Five Five” — the fifth movie in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, still manages to be more fun than any movie with its outrageous carbon footprint has any right to be.

It’s a V-8 roller coaster overstuffed with riders — the trio of Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster are back, with Tyrese Gibson and for good measure, Dwayne Johnson as a super cop on their trail, the only actor in the biz able to match Diesel in terms of bulk. Yeah, they’re going to tangle, you just know it.

That makes the movie entirely too bulky  as we try to keep up with multiple layers of heists by the lads and lass on the lam in Rio de Janeiro. A bad guy (Joaquin de Almeida) has crossed them, so of course they need to go out, drag race themselves into new rides and take him down.

A team is assembled — Sung Kang and Ludacris from previous “Fast” films, a few others. And legions of stunt folk drive all manner of Porsches, Subarus, Nissans, Hondas and especially Dodges (THE product placement of this film) very very fast, tires squalling, gear-shifts jamming, turbos whining. Toss in an epic shootout or two in the crowded, crime-ridden hillside favelas (neighborhoods) of Rio and you’ve got an action picture.

“Furious” director Justin Lin is perfectly at  home in this franchise, now, staging a jaw-dropping opener in which super sports cars are stolen from a moving train. He keeps the picture clipping along for about an hour, but bogs down as he runs out of things to do with the cars. The players are quite comfy in their roles, which can be both crowd-pleasing and deathly dull as drama.

A joke that went viral from the online comedy site The Onion this week featured an interview with the “five year old who wrote ‘Fast Five,’” a joke that works because naturally this script is an eye-roller in the extreme.

There’s the cop (Johnson) warning his subordinates about their quarry — “Don’t EVER let them get into a car,” a lot of talk about “one last job” and how a life on the lam isn’t all that. “Running isn’t freedom,” Dom (Diesel) declares, before figuring out another way to stay on the run even longer.

The groan-worthy lines don’t really get to be an issue until the 100 minute mark, a sure sign a movie  is sputtering out of gas. The fact that “Fast Five,” which is built to set up even more sequels, lasts a full 30 extra minutes on fumes and product placement ads is no selling point.

MPAA rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, sexual content and language

Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Gal Gadot, Tyrese Gibson

Credits: Directed by Justin Lin, written by Chris Morgan. A Universal Studios release. Running time: 2:10.

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