Andy Bockelman: ‘Fast Five’ keeps its action in low gear for too long |

Andy Bockelman: ‘Fast Five’ keeps its action in low gear for too long

Andy Bockelman is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society, and his movie reviews appear in Explore Steamboat and the Craig Daily Press.

With any successful movie series, there has to be a point where the makers admit that there is a conclusion somewhere on the horizon. Though it's taken long enough, it would seem that the people responsible for "Fast Five" and all that came before it are aware that there is indeed a bottom to the gas tank.

When last we left FBI Agent Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker), he was about to say goodbye to his career by liberating good friend Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) from prison. On the lam in Rio de Janeiro, the trio waste no time getting back to their old tricks, starting with the theft of a set of valuable cars.

But, when things don't go as planned, the group gets catapulted to the top of the hit list for Brazil's most ruthless crime boss, Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), as well as the unwanted notoriety of being international fugitives from justice. Now contending with the efforts of a hard-nosed American agent (Dwayne Johnson) seeking their extradition, Brian and Dom prepare to go out in a blaze of glory by assembling their old cronies in order to take Reyes for everything he's worth: $100 million.

Would Walker and Diesel still be considered big name stars if they didn't keep returning to the movies that made them famous? Probably not, but at least they're big enough to embrace that fact, taking themselves as serious as ever as Brian and Dom, who have done some growing up over these last 10 years, especially in how they relate to friends and enemies.

Brewster is just as formidable a presence behind the wheel as Mia, even when she's in the family way, while the latest lady to catch Dom's eye is a Rio policewoman (Elsa Pataky). But, of course he's not so friendly with everyone on the other side of the law, staring down Johnson without a blink. Not too easy a feat with The Rock playing powerhouse DSS Agent Luke Hobbs.

Joining the lineup are all the usual suspects from past "Fast" movies: loudmouth Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), master mechanic Tej Parker (Ludacris) and racer Han Seoul-Oh (Sung Kang), among others who know just how to rev an engine. For all the good it does.

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There's a surprising lack of the hot rod set in this fifth installment of "The Fast and the Furious." In his third go at the series, Justin Lin shifts his direction toward the elements of a heist movie, a move that involves a lot of planning scenes and buildup before finally getting to what we all paid to see: a highway pursuit the likes of which we have never seen.

Lin warms up with a couple early games of Chicken before keeping his characters out of the driver's seat for a good long while until he lets them put the pedal to the metal in the final moments. While this finale is a doozy of a car chase, ranking among "Bullitt" and "Smokey and the Bandit," the wait is just interminable.

Truth be told, these people just aren't that interesting when they're in a standing position, and by changing the dynamics of what has been an undeniably popular premise, Lin pumps the brakes when he should floor it.

The conflict of "Fast Five" is that it swerves between lanes too often, never capturing the intellect of the heist genre nor the raw energy of its previous entries. Lin has a powerful engine to use, but what good is that when there's not enough juice in the battery to accompany it and really get things going?

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‘Fast Five’

2 out of 4 stars

130 minutes

Starring: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster and Dwayne Johnson.