Can a film be cause for celebration? Most, including me, would say no. If so, I challenge them to rethink their position after seeing Fast Five. It aims exclusively at the sophisiticated viewer and dares him or her to think about what a medium that has lost its way can be. The film is moving, inspiring, and likely to cause some to drive really fast when leaving the theatre. Directed by Justin Lin of "Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift" and written by veteran Chris Morgan, their effort is not simply award worthy, it is a life altering experience. Set in the dreary favelas of Rio de Janiero, the pulse of the film is provided by Sir Vin Diesel, fresh off his extened run as Macbeth the Old Vic; Mr. Dwayne Johnson, most recently of Westlemania 27; and Mr. Johnson's spectacularly aggressive biceps. It is good and evil with the prize the unborn niece or nephew of Dom, Sir Vin's character. The homage to Rosemary's Babe is touching and sincere. The chemistry between Sir Vin and Mr. Johnson might best be decribed as a testosterone bath culminating in the film's finest scene when Sir Vin has an opportunity to drive a monkey wrench into the skull of Mr. Johnson. This scene will immediately take viewers back to Citizen Kane or at least their film studies classes in which every instructor taught them if they did not worship Citizen Kane they better fake it or risk getting an F on the final exam.
A superb supporting cast includes Ludacris in the role of Ludacris and Joaquim de Almeida, reprizing the role he so-often played in "Miami Vice" opposite Crockett and Tubs. Sung Kang, however, steals the show with his understated performance as Han. Kang is the newest Belmondo and his performance is Belmondo at his best -- think Breathless, unless you have been under a rock.
Most of the audience will simply laugh, groan, moan, cry, eat milk duds and text message. The film is lost on them. They will not recognize the magic and the celebration of art in Fast Five. For the sophisticated viewer it is cavier and champagne.