Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Film #38 & #39 Fast & Furious 5; Rio

An unlikely pairing, this, though with a few key shared characteristics:

1. Both are catnip for multiplex cinemas - the hi-def 3D kids movie and the brainless actioner - and will retain long runs
2. Both make extensive and creative use of a certain iconic Brazilian city
3. Both are very slickly made and conform completely to the rules of their genre without particularly excelling.

Of the two, Rio is the more accomplished. The animation is lovely (but don't we take that for granted these days?), the voice work is fine and the plot is well-crafted, if formulaic. And while it's hardly Pixar territory, a couple of things do lift this slightly above average - one is the presence of Jemaine Clement as an evil cockatoo (getting all the best lines), the other is the creative use of the setting itself. Hollywood venturing overseas generally means stereotypes, hokey accents and borderline racism but here, presumably because the director himself is a Carioca, we're spared the usual guff. OK, Carlos Saldanha's Rio is somewhat sanitised - this is a kids film, after all - and almost everyone speaks English but it's still a noteworthy effort.

On to Fast & Furious 5 (or Fast 5 outside the UK). After being bukkaked with knowingness and meta-narrative recently (courtesy of Scream 4, Cedar Rapids, Thor and others) it's quite refreshing to watch a car-chase heist movie that is simply... a car chase heist movie. No more, no less. If you want guns, muscles, bikini babes, fast cars, explosions and elaborate action set pieces without having to worry too much about a plot: this is the film for you.

It's utter nonsense, of course, and the acting ranges from the merely satisfactory (Sung Kang, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges) to the unbelievably wooden (Greg-Wallace-a-like Vin Diesel, who is shown up in the muscle-man stakes by Dwayne Johnson). The moral universe is palaeolithic - guns, money, cars and pussy - and honour amongst thieves does not extend here to A-Team style sparing of henchman/coppers: there's a pretty high bodycount (though only a 12A quantity of blood). There's also the perennial problem of jeopardy - if you don't care a flying fig for the characters involved, then there can be no suspense. You'll certainly have no qualms about going for a pee half way through.

Incidentally, ratings are superfluous for these films; they're already comfortably number one and number two in the global box office for 2011.

Fast & Furious 5 ****4/10
Rio ******6/10


  1. I quite enjoyed Rio (and more than just visually) but the one thing that would have made it better is to include more authentic Brazilian music. Not just have Will i. Am (or whatever that idiot's name is) doing whatever it is he does. I have a lot of Brazilian friends and to hear their music is a magical thing. Wish there had been more of it here. Otherwise though, i more than palpable enjoyment level.

    As for Fast 5 (or whatever) I have never seen the others so...I haven't bothered with this one either.

    Good luck with you quest.

  2. True enough re. music, would've been good to get some of the Tropicalia sound in there - it's kid-friendly enough. Apparently Sergio Mendes was brought on board as some kind of musical consultant, but other than a bit of 'Mas Que Nada' I can't see he had that much effect.

    And you're right not to bother with Fast 5. It's the very epitome of unremarkable-ness.