What happens when a big ridiculous cartoon action star meets a big ridiculous cartoon action franchise? Well, friend, you get something very like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in Fast Five, his debut in the beloved, increasingly absurd Fast & Furious franchise.
As with San Andreas, Brian and Hemal diverged sharply in their appreciation for Fast Five. On the one hand, Hemal really loves these Fast & Furious car chase movies and is deeply invested in the baroque lore of the series, while Brian hadn’t seen any of them and was at a loss to understand why all the characters were so uninteresting.
At the heart of your hard-working hosts’ disagreement is the concept of spectacle. Unlike some action films that work to evoke a visceral reaction in the viewer (“Ahh! The guy almost fell right off the thing!”), Fast Five is aiming for more of a meta-appreciation of its action set pieces (“Ha ha, I can’t believe they had Vin Diesel drive his car out of that plane! Radical!”). The characters are invulnerable to all harm, so your enjoyment of the movie derives not from any sense of tension, but from appreciating the ever-escalating absurdity of events onscreen.
But these movies make hundreds of millions of dollars and show no sign of letting up, so we approach this film in a spirit of humility. Check out the episode and join us in our modest assessment.