Fast Five (Extended Edition) (2011) 
Blu-ray Action-Adventure
Written by Noah Fleming   
Tuesday, 27 September 2011

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After the first couple of “Fast And The Furious” it seems shocking that the studio and filmmakers continued to greenlight more sequels.  The franchise no doubt dwindled after the second and third films.  However, the key to resurrecting the franchise laid in bringing back the original actors for the fourth film.

As the name suggests, “Fast Five” is the fifth in the series, and some would regard it as the best in the series.  Personally, the fifth and first films rank close together.  The franchise has not had the biggest impact on me.  Parts of each of the films are catchy, but they are far from great films, relying on the fancy cars to get them from beginning to end.

However, by bringing back the original cast members, the filmmakers are able to continue on the original story and backgrounds.  This is the story aspect that grabs most viewers looking for something more than racing cars.

In the fifth installment, Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) and wife/girlfriend Mia (Jordana Brewster) are on the run after breaking Dom out of a prison bus transport.  Dom is also on the run on his own.  But when financials fall, O’Connor has no choice but to get the group back together for another heist.  This time it is led by their old pal, Vince.

While Rio de Janeiro is the setting for this film, it is actually the landscape of Puerto Rico that is being used, with the exception of some helicopter overhead shots.  When the job goes wrong, DEA agents are killed aboard the heist train.  This puts Dom, O’Connor and Mia at the top of the most wanted list.  The federal government sends in an elite DSS team to capture (kill) the trio.  The team is led by an overly-muscled Dwayne Johnson.

The boosted car now in the possession of Dom and O’Connor contains a valuable chip that tells them the entire drug and money operation of a drug kingpin.  Given their situation, Dom puts together a team consists of old pals from the first four films to strike back at the kingpin, stealing his $100 million.  To complicate matters, the Rio de Janeiro police force, yes its entirety is corrupt.  The entirety that is with the exception of one, a patrol officer played by Elsa Pataky.  She is recruited by the DSS team to be their lesion.  However, a slight relationship develops between her and Dom, complicating matters further.

“Fast Five” is filled with street chases and races, gun fights, explosions, and a climatic car-vault safe chase.  Of all the films, this is the most adventurous and action-packed one.  I found the action to be non-stop, literally.  Every scene was heightened with music or just a brief interlude leading to the next action sequence.  Two hours of this.  It was exhausting.  However, at the same time I applaud the filmmakers for their ability to keep the action and the story going at the same time.  It is a bit rough to start with, but once the kinks have been worked out the ball really gets rolling.

There are many issues with the film that you will surely discover along the way.  For me, I had a bit of trouble getting past the inclusion in Dom’s team of a prominent member of “Tokyo Drift” who clearly and unequivocally dies in that film.  You’ll see who I mean if you can’t figure it out.  There are hints that the next film will address the issue, but that is only a hope.

Yes, there will be a next film.  A nice little cameo by Eva Mendes in the middle of the credits leaves us with an ending that makes a sixth film a must.  All I will tell you is that it will bring back a character who is thought to be dead (not from Tokyo Drift).  Tentatively, the film is titled “The Fast And The Furious 6.”

While the quality of the film is up for debate, “Fast Five” is certainly the best-looking Blu-ray transfer in the franchise.  The details are sharp and simply amazing.  They provide much texture and object delineation to the image.  Fleshtones are the only weak point in the film, being highly oversaturated.  While it somehow works on most occasions, they still seem too hot.  Contrast and brightness levels are nicely balanced, leaving shadow delineation in far better shape that I would have ever expected.  The black levels are rich and inky, providing more great object delineation.  Colors are vibrant but not cartoony.  Blu-ray artifacting such as aliasing and banding appear to be absent.  There is no significant DNR performed.  The transfer is near technically flawless.  The only thing hanging over my head at the moment is that of a true feeling of impressed.  There is just something that keeps you from ultimately loving this image quality.

The audio is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1.  The audio track is very much impressive, given the genre of film.  You can expect bullets and explosions to happen all around you.  The surround channels do not disappoint here.  Ricochets and whizzing occur throughout the film.  The balance of the stems is excellent, with maybe the music falling a bit low in comparison to the dialogue and effects.  The dialogue remains crystal clean throughout.  Frequency response remains roomy and the dynamic range has its moments.  My criticism lies in the original sound design.  Some of the panning is a bit sloppy, meaning the coherency of the front and rear soundfields can be obscure at times.  The starting and ending position of a sound effect is crystal clear and accurate, but as the sound travels from front to rear there is too much frequency splitting of the sound effects before it comes back together in the end.  This is a tough aspect of mixing to avoid, and I applaud the sound designers given the amount of sound effects needed for this film.  The LFE channel is not as powerful as I would have thought.  It just doesn’t extend as low as I would have liked.  Overall, this is a near perfect audio track, dinged more for original sound design choices.

Surprisingly, “Fast Five” comes with a host of bonus materials that will delight fans.  After all, who else are the bonus materials really for?  The bonus materials start with two versions of the film, which are hardly different at all and a picture-in-picture track with various members of the cast and crew discussing the production of the film.  The director audio commentary by Justin Lin is a bit of a snooze, but fans might get some enjoyment from it.  “A New Set Of Wheels” discusses the new cars in the film.  “The Big Train Heist” takes a look at the production and creation of the opening act.  “Brian O’Connor: From Fed To Con” looks at Brian’s character.  “Dom’s Journey” examines Vin Diesel’s character.  “Reuniting The Team” quickly looks at the joining of past franchise members to “Fast Five.”  “On Set With Director Justin Lin” is exactly what the title suggests.  “Dom vs. Hobbs” covers the fight from Diesel and Johnson.  “Enter Federal Agent Hobbs” takes a look at Johnson’s character.  Other features include deleted scenes, “Tyrese TV,” a gag reel, BD-Live functionality.  “Fast Five:” also includes the second screen function that is becoming popular.  I’ll never understand that one.  The package also includes a DVD/Digital Copy of the film.

“Fast Five” is probably the best in the series thus far.  I must say this film did leave me looking forward to the sixth in the series, more than the any of previous films did for their sequels.  The audio and video qualities of the Blu-ray are certainly the best in the franchise.  I suggest picking this one up for all high-octane fans.  Maybe just a rent for those casual viewers.
Studio Universal Studios Home Entertainment
MPAA Rating PG-13
Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Elsa Pataky, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Matt Schulze, Gal Gadot, Don Omar, Joaquim de Almeida
Director Justin Lin
Film Release Year 2011
Release Year 2011
Resolution(s) 1080p (main feature) • 1080p (supplements)
Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Running Time 2 hrs. 11 mins., 2 hrs. 12 mins.
Sound Formats English DTS-HD Master 5.1 • French DTS 5.1 • Spanish DTS 5.1
Subtitles English SDH • French • Spanish
Special Features Picture-In-Picture Commentary; Director Audio Commentary; Deleted Scenes; Gag Reel; “The Big Train Heist”; “Reuniting The Team”; “A New Set Of Wheels”; “Dom’s Journey”; “Enter Federal Agent Hobbs”; “Brian O’Connor: From Fed To Con”; “Dom vs. Hobbs”; “Inside The Vault Chase”; “Tyrese TV”; “On Set With Director Justin Lin”; Bd-Live; Second Screen; DVD/Digital Copy
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Reviewer Noah Fleming

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