‘Fast five’ has accomplished something no other movie has: summer has moved forward to this Friday, April 26th. Usually summer begins on June 21st but due to the extreme hotness and anticipation of the fifth installment of the “Fast and Furious” franchise, well; let’s just say that groundhog didn’t see this coming. How could he? It was moving too quickly for him, leaving him in the dust. That groundhog didn’t even see the shadow coming.
The movie starts with a bang. Kid Charlemagne (Vin Diesel) is busy crafting legislation to increase the tax on ethanol in Brazil. Brazil is facing a serious budgetary gap, and may otherwise have to cut social programs to the poor. On television Kid Charlemagne tries to explain to the nation how everyone will need to sacrifice for the betterment of society. Halfway through his speech of eliminating poverty, he says “Fuck it” and chooses to steal money using really fast cars.
Everyone is shocked in Brazil at how the dedicated civil servant fell so far from grace. He establishes himself as the major player in an international drug cartel. Financing the underground musical movement called ‘chillwave’ he increases drug consumption in the United States by over 350% during the summer of 2009. Kid is considered a god among men, and his revolutionary spirit of financing music to take drugs to have countless impersonators. Only Kid has a leg up on them as he worked at his university as a radio DJ during the pivotal hours of 11:00pm to 1:00am on Thursday nights. No one realizes this except for a lone US Federal Agent.
A US Federal Agent named Steely Dan (played by Dwayne Johnson) remembers those sweet jams Kid used to play. Memories flood Steely’s mind, of him and his Cousin Dupree, of his good friend Dr. Wu who wrote him prescriptions to painkillers he’s now addicted to, and of his orgies with the Babylon sisters. Knowing how tough it is to kick the habit, he hopes to at least help Kid turn back to his old ways, of helping others. Plus, he worries about stronger strains of music being unleashed, requiring even heavier drugs.
Driving furiously after Kid listening to jazz-rock fusion from the 70s, he fails to stop Kid’s most recent contribution to the popular music blog “The Hype Machine”. After Salem’s newest album hits the site, the site becomes nearly overwhelmed. Heavier drugs become an in-thing among the cool kids in such hip, relevant places such as Austin, New York, Portland, Chicago and Minneapolis. Tears roll down Steely’s face as he sees how absolutely strung out of his mind the lead singer of Salem is, like he doesn’t even know what’s going on or why people invited him to play at South By Southwest.
Steely Dan is perplexed. In this role, Dwayne lived with Bill Murray for six months to get down pat the goal of being a hip older man. Then he read various hip blogs for an entire year to hone the exact language his character would use as a cool dad. Putting this together took time, and there’s a lot of screen time dedicated to Steely Dan g-chatting with his teenage son in the US, telling him to avoid purchasing wrap-around headphones. By avoiding that kind of purchase, Steely hopes his son will continue listening to music on those shitty waxy IPOD headphones and avoid the hypnotic grooves of Dubstep and Chillwave.
Years go by as Steely Dan plans his next move. He’s trailing Kid, who grows stronger by the day. An entire team is assembled by Steely, set on destroying Kid’s influence on the young people of Brazil and the United States. This 80s throwback nostalgia stuff only makes kids want drugs even more, reminding Steely of the botched efforts he undertook in the late 80s working with the Reagan administration.
Finally, Steely’s team goes into action. Driving cars so insanely fast they have been banned from Germany’s famous Autobahn, they spring into action. This is the most intense chase of the movie and the longest, lasting for nearly 30 whole minutes. While we watch them drive at unreasonable speeds in the Bugatti Veyron, we get the most character development and dialogue in the entire movie. Apparently Kid had developed impotence, making him rely on ever-increasing amounts of Viagra to please his hipster wife Sue (played by Zooey Deschanel). Combining their musical taste made them an unstoppable force.
Kid is used to being the best driver. But Steely’s excellent handling and reckless driving has him worried. Having to choose between escape or releasing the latest music fad (Post-Chillstep, a mixture of Post Rock, Chillwave and Dubstep which instantly makes the brain crave unconscionable amounts of dopamine) he chooses to live another day. While frustrated, Steely is happy to have somewhat defeated him. The movie ends with Steely abusing prescription drugs listening to Neon Indian’s “Deadbeat Summer” wondering where he goes from here. Steely looks down at his feet, mumbling ‘Bad Sneakers’ before passing out.
Masterfully directed by Vin Diesel, Fast Five is easily the best of the “Fast and Furious” series. The exploration of good and bad, alongside the latest musical trends, makes it a movie capturing the moment. I’d strongly urge everyone to see this, for Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnston give the performance of a lifetime.