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Blu-ray Review: Fast Five

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The Fast and the Furious movies have always been about fast cars and crazy action sequences, over the years the actors have changed but with Fast Five the gang is all back together. This follow-up to 2009’s Fast and Furious is great fun and is packaged in a stellar Blu-ray presentation that sounds as good as it looks.

The Film

click to view larger imageSet after the end of Fast and Furious Dominic “Dom” Toretto (Vin Diesel) is en route to a life sentence in jail when he is freed by his sister Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) and friend Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) in a daring bus crash. They flee to Rio de Janeiro and O’Connor is compelled to take on a routine car heist by their friend Vince (Matt Schulze). Dom joins them on the job and it goes completely sideways leading to three DEA agents being killed by an outsider to the group, Zizi (Michael Irby), who only wanted to steal one of the seized cars.

Dom, O’Connor, and Mia escape with the car and discover it has a chip in it that details the location of 100 million dollars belonging to the local kingpin Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida). Normally they would avoid touching something so dangerous but because they are believed to have killed the DEA agents a crack FBI headhunter named Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is on their trail and they need the money to disappear. Deciding to take on this dangerous job they call in their friends and allies to form the team, coincidentally these are the co-stars from the previous ‘Fast’ movies.

click to view larger imageJoining the trio is Han Seoul-Oh (Sung Kang), crack driver and everyman, Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), a fast talker, Tej Parker (Ludacris), the tech wizard, Gisele Yashar (Gal Gadot), sexy and capable ex-soldier, as well as Tego Leo (Tego Calderón) and Rico Santos (Don Omar) who are the down and dirty specialists. Once the group gets together the team forms a plan to steal the money while avoiding capture by Hobbes and his team. Of course nothing goes as planned and what follows is a non-stop ride of chases, gun-play and insane action sequences.

Off the bat I have to say I quite enjoyed Fast Five. The scenarios are completely ridiculous and the physics of half the action sequences would make Einstein spin in his grave, but it didn’t matter, the movie was just plain fun. The standout for me, even more so then the amazing cars and chases, was Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as Hobbes. This man NEEDS to be the biggest action star in Hollywood. Every second he was on screen, from the quick patter conversations with his team to the brutal throw-down with Vin Diesel’s Dom he stole the show.

click to view larger imageDwayne Johnson’s Hobbes aside the remainder of the large cast is quite solid and surprisingly all of them get a decent amount of screen time. The action sequences are top notch, if incredibly unbelievable, throughout the movie. From the opening heist as they steal cars from a moving train(!) to the finale where Dom and O’Connor race across Rio de Janeiro towing a huge safe behind their matching muscle cars the scenes are filmed and staged excellently. Fast Five is full of big set pieces, crazy action sequences, fast cars, is a very fun ride and easily the best in the series.

The Video

Fast Five is a fantastic looking movie featuring a stellar 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that is nothing short of brilliant. The movie has scenes in the desert, back streets and brightly lit roads of Rio and sprawling bridges and at all times it looks amazing. The crispness of the image, the deep black levels and the textures that jump out of the screen show the true care taken in filming and transferring this movie to Blu-ray. The sheer clarity in the image is amazing with details like sweat, pores, scrapes, tears, scuffs and the shine of the cars popping throughout the film. There is no artifacting, no muddiness, no aliasing and the film grain is perfect. This Blu-ray release of Fast Five is a reference quality transfer and one of the best looking Blu-rays I have seen.

The Audio

click to view larger imageThe rumble of fast cars, grunts and hits from crazy action sequences and loud explosions filled and enveloped me in this superb DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. The audio from top to bottom is as flawless as the video transfer and really added to the feel and effectiveness of this film. To me audio is extremely important and hearing cars pass back and forth behind and beside me, tools clanging all around and explosions that made my bones rattle further sold me on this experience. From the dialog that is always clear to the music that is effective and the effects that are solid and visceral this is a fantastic audio mix.

The Extras

Fast Five features a huge pile of extras, all presented in HD no less, adding a great deal of depth to a fun movie. The commentary and PiP extras are quite good as is the deeper looks at key scenes and characters.

  • click to view larger imageTheatrical and Extended Cuts: There is both an extended and theatrical version of the film on the Blu-ray, the extended has an extra 2 minutes and for the life of me I couldn’t spot them.
  • Second Screen Interactive Viewing: Using the free Pocket Blu app you can use access a second screen on your PC, iPad, or Android tablet device to view behind the scenes content and a virtual garage. It doesn’t work on the iPhone, but I tried it on my laptop and the extra content was neat and didn’t detract from the movie experience.
  • U-Control Picture-in-Picture Track (HD): Producer Neal H. Moritz, actor/producer Vin Diesel, director Justin Lin, supervising stunt director Mike Gunther among other cast and crew pop up from time to time to delve deeper into the film. Some good stuff here and worth a second viewing.
  • Scene Explorer (HD, 26 minutes): A cool feature that allows you to view the opening scene three ways at once (PreVis window, a Dailies window, and a Behind the Scenes window). You can expand any of the views to full screen. I really enjoyed this approach to analyzing a scene.
  • Audio Commentary: Not the most verbose commentary track out there, but Director Justin Lin gives us a pretty good behind the scenes commentary.
  • The Big Train Heist (HD, 8 minutes): Vin Diesel and Paul Walker get in depth and look at how Justin Lin and crew developed, staged and filmed the great opening sequence.
  • A New Set of Wheels (HD, 10 minutes): A look at the more understated (but still awesome) cars of Fast Five.
  • Reuniting the Team (HD, 5 minutes): Vin Diesel and Justin Lin welcome returning castmates back, it is a little cheesy, but is harmless fun.
  • Dom’s Journey (HD, 5 minutes): Looking at the character of Dom and how he grew into the patriarchal role.
  • Brian O’Connor: From Fed to Con (HD, 6 minutes): O’Conner’s change from undercover federal officer to part of Dom’s criminal family.
  • Enter Federal Agent Hobbs (HD, 6 minutes): Woot! A look at Dwayne Johnsons character of Hobbes.
  • Dom vs. Hobbs (HD, 8 minutes): A great action sequence is analyzed in this short but enjoyable feature.
  • Inside the Vault Chase (HD, 9 minutes): How do you have a chase sequence where you steal and drive away with a bank vault? Build a steerable bank vault!
  • On Set with Director Justin Lin (HD, 9 minutes): A marketing fluff piece, but still nice to see the candid moments.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 2 minutes): Short deleted scenes, nothing groundbreaking here.
  • Tyrese TV (HD, 7 minutes): Listed as the smooth talker in the film Tyrese Gibson practices living his character.
  • Gag Reel (HD, 4 minutes): Every movie has them; these are more boring then most.
  • My Scenes Bookmarking
  • BD-Live Functionality

The Final Word

I was very pleasantly surprised by Fast Five. Unfortunately, 2009’s Fast and Furious was not very good and I didn’t have high hopes for this fifth iteration in the franchise. Turns out Justin Lin’s Fast Five is a fun, high adrenaline action movie that has some great performances from Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel and the rest of the large cast. The Blu-ray presentation is nothing short of spectacular, it looks and sounds better than 95 percent of the titles out there and has a great deal of quality extras as well. This is one of the better Blu-rays of the year and one action fans need to have, even if you are not a fan of the franchise.

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About Michael Prince

Looking at all things Geek - news, rants and updates from the worlds of gaming, tech, blu-ray, novels, and music.