Directed by Justin Lin. Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Matt Schulze, Joaquim de Almeida, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Eva Mendes. (2011, PG-13, 130 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., May 6, 2011
Sure to be a big hit with the Tom of Finland crowd, this fifth entry in the almost always fun Fast and the Furious franchise offers more of the same – only bigger, badder, and more intensely homoerotic than ever before. Macho men and their "fuel-injected suicide machines" (to quote Mad Max, which might as well be the bible on such matters) go head-to-head, again, only this time it's ecstatically, subversively gay: The barely coded transgressiveness of Fast Five is rambunctiously, jubilantly pro-mano-a-mano fun. It begins with a tasty-queasy dose of favela chic in Rio de Janeiro, where ex-con Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and his former FBI agent/now car-thief pal Brian O'Conner (Walker) angle to steal a trainload of priceless Detroit rolling stock for the promise of a fat payoff. Also along for the very bumpy ride are O'Conner's true love Mia (Brewster), who in case you've forgotten is also Dominic's sister, and hulking HGH horror show Vince (Schulze). Things, surprisingly, don't go as planned, and after a breathtakingly vertiginous car-into-gorge stunt, it quickly becomes apparent that Dom and his crew have been set up by parties unknown. Enter the Rock, er, Dwayne Johnson, as Defense Security Service psychonaut Hobbs, a character who is not so much an actual character as he is a caricature. Decked out in a black mesh top and (to all appearances) ’roided out to the point of causing nightmares in small children and nocturnal emissions in the aforementioned Tom's crowd, Johnson's growly Hobbs is downright freakish looking, sporting less of a body builder's classic frame than some bizarre hybrid of adult-only, manga-esque, hot-roddy body mod and arch, eyebrow-raising camp. He's in on the joke, at least. Not so for Diesel, who continues to come across as someone who wants to eat you raw and then floss with your children's intestines. When Johnson and Diesel finally come to blows (or bullets, really), it's a genuine masterpiece of surrealist cinema: two gigantic, bald, beveined, excessively phallic Übermenschen battling it out to see who's the top dog and who gets to be the naughty bottom. Fascinating, no? Of course, that's just one (obvious) reading of Fast Five. You could also say it's a kickass demolition derby – pure, dumb summer fun – and often easy on the (hetero) eyes thanks to the inclusion of Brewster and Mendes, who seem to be having a total blast. Whichever way you take it, all I can say for sure is that I want that cherry 1970 Dodge Charger. I want it bad.