“Bromance of the Cars” aka “Can you smell what the testosterone is cooking?”

Having not checking in on a Fast and the Furious movie since the first one over ten years ago, I was sure there were many unanswered questions from the middle three that required a fifth entry in the series.  Thing is, one doesn’t go into Fast Five looking for Black Swan or King’s Speech.  There is much about Fast Five which was reminiscent of an 80s buddy cop movie:  you know the kind of movie you have signed up for, you know the bulk of the plot points before the opening credits roll, and you just want it to deliver what you came there for.  Fast Five does.

Dominic (Vin Diesel) begins having been found guilty of charges and sentenced to twenty five years without parole.  Enter:  Brian (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster), who stage a daring prison break involving cars and spectacular crashes.  Barely five minutes into the movie, it is readily apparent that the laws of physics need not apply, but who cares when the action sequences are otherwise staged so thrillingly.

Our heroes are now on the run.  Enter:  Rio de Janeiro as the backdrop locale (and location du jour, with Rio having just opened not too long ago).  Luckily they meet up with their old buddy Vince (Matt Schulze) who has a deal set up to line their pockets with some well needed cash.  The plan goes horribly awry, federal agents get killed, and Dominic and Brian are captured by the king of the Rio drug trade, Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), though they escape without breaking a sweat.  Enter:  The Rock as an American cowboy as subtle as his namesake whose style is described as Old Testament:  blood and wrath of God.  And bullets.

So now our band of intrepid heroes are caught between a gun wielding drug cartel and trigger happy American marshals.  All of which proves to be a lot of set up, forty five minutes worth, for what boils down to a poor man’s version of Ocean 11/Mission:  Impossible as they embark on one last job.  (Which builds to a Vin Diesel vs. Dwayne Johnson fight, catering to audience anticipation the way one would have hoped for a Arnold Schwarzenegger/Sylvester Stallone showdown back in the day).

“I already lost my family once.  I’m not going through that again.” –Mia

Through the action and plot “twists”, what the movie revolves around is the idea of forging and maintaining family.  The relationship between Dom and Brian is one of brothers, a brotherhood forged through trial, unity, and mutual respect and understanding.  In fact, this franchise is a testament to MAN BONDING.  And though Brian had forgotten who his father was, he still had a longing for family.

“There’s always room for family.” –Dom

The human heart longs for fellowship, love, and communion. We’re wired for relationships. We want the comfort of an embrace, we want to be known and loved.  We must live in the midst of a caring community. Love must be shared. Life must be shared.  It’s as if we were designed to find our purpose and meaning in community: family, friends, co-workers, or nation.   Intimacy with others is a need hard-wired into us.  Friends are the family we choose.  Because friendship is a beautiful and unique form of love, it truly provides a genuine opportunity for our need for intimacy to be met apart from (biological) family and romance.  Such bonds protect against isolation and loneliness and provide emotional encouragement, spiritual support, and stability.

A certain amount of ridiculousness is de rigeur in a movie like Fast Five.  Somehow these supposedly broke band of brothers are able to not only finance their operation, but somehow are able to get their hands on anything they need.  There are numerous TestFest moments (seriously, you choose now to race?).   There is a swath of property and car destruction that rivals the ending of The Blues Brothers.  And did I mention the laws of physics?  I flunked physics several times, but even I got some of the basics down.  But here, mass + acceleration + force = nevermind.

Even though the movie is predictable in that 80s buddy cop movie sort of way, just because you’re familiar with the ride doesn’t make it bad.  Not Citizen Kane by any stretch, Fast Five is the movie you expect (want) it to be.  In short, Fast Five is Fun and Ridiculous.