“Fast 5” is part action movie part Looney Tune.
And by that I mean 25 percent Sylvester Stallone and 75 percent Chuck Jones/Bob Clampett.
The scene where Paul Walker and Vin Diesel ride a car off a hundred-foot cliff and into a river? The director might as well had them hit solid ground with a Wile E. Coyote dust cloud then cut to a scene of the two of them lying slightly flattened on a dry desert floor that’s sporting a few new cracks and fissures.
It would not have been too far out of place for this movie.
There are more absurdities per minute in “Fast 5” than in the last Austin Powers movie.
Ordinarily, that should sink an action movie, but here it’s strangely entertaining.
The film isn’t deliberately winking at the audience like a Roger Moore James Bond film. It’s not the “Crank” movies, where two combatants suddenly turn into battling kaiju.
It’s almost a little bit like “The Blues Brothers.” The chase scenes are a joke, but they’re played with a completely straight face.
The movie just barrels ahead from one crazy idea to the next, the absurdity adding to the film’s insane energy level. And you have to applaud a franchise that has so much life in its fifth entry when other franchises are ready to pack it in and reboot after the third installment.
In a way this film is exactly like its star Vin Diesel; a clumsy, lumbering ox of a picture that’s also goofy and likable.
The opening prison escape, a scene from the previous entry takes the laws of physics and throws them right out the window. Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster free Vin Diesel as he’s being transported in a prison bus.
Their method is to let the bus crash into the back of Walker’s car. Instead of Walker being squashed flat, this causes the bus to fly up into the air and roll over several times. And no one gets killed or seriously injured. This, despite the fact that the bus was full and there are no seat restraints.
The movie then jets off to Brazil where our little band run afoul the local drug kingpin.
After the above mentioned cliff fall they discover one of the high end cars they stole hides a microchip that contains vital information on the drug lord’s operation.
Keep in mind, it's a microchip, not a flashdrive. The smooth operating drug lord had somebody imprint a computer chip with the locations of all his collection points throughout the city. Then he decided the best way to smuggle this was in a million-dollar car rather than, say, a box of Tic Tacs.
That leads to another chase, this one involving Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
It’s utterly over-the-top, but it’s great that finally Diesel and Johnson are in a movie together.
It’s not quite “The Expendables” but it’s still worth it to have these two sharing the big screen.
They’re both hulking but charismatic performers. You’d think these guys would be excellent badasses. And sometimes they are, but mostly they work best when there’s a little goofiness to the film.
In “Fast 5,” the goofiness just keeps on coming. After eluding Johnson and their other pursuers, which involves yet another Wile E. Coyote style fall, this time through a corrugated metal roof, the three outlaws gather together a team to take down the drug lord.
So enter every supporting character from every other “Fast and Furious” movie. There’s Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson from “2 Fast 2 Furious,” Gal Gadot and Tego Calderon from the fourth installment, and Sung Kang (even though his character was killed off back in “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”).
Just having Kang in the cast, again is hilarious. This is his character’s second appearance after being killed off -- the explanation being that “Tokyo Drift” takes place in the near future, despite the fact that Kang now looks older in this film than he did in that one.
Of course, it’s not just theater of the absurd.
“Fast 5” is a throwback to the good old mindless, vintage Joel Silver '80s actioners.
Like those films, it has a moment of, not exactly clarity, but a moment where the plot starts to make sense on its own terms.
Our band of photogenic outlaws hit one of the drug lord’s counting houses which forces him to pool all his money in one impregnable location, a local police station.
That sets up among other things, the largest poop gag I’ve ever seen, an excuse to get Gal Gadot in a bikini, a couple of thoroughly pointless racing sequences, that anticipated Rock/Diesel smackdown, the ambush scene from “Clear and Present Danger,” and one final, utterly impossible chase involving a 10-ton vault.
The calendar says it’s still spring, but the summer movies are here.
And the phrase “dumb fun in the sun” perfectly describes “Fast 5.”
Could it be smarter? That’s not even a question.
The question is does its dumbness detract from its entertainment value? And no it doesn’t