Reel Critics: 'Fast Five' offers nothing new

"Fast Five" is the latest entry in the speed crazy franchise that began with the first "The Fast and the Furious" movie. It's full of the usual rowdy stunts, pulse-pounding chase scenes and car crashes. And it all takes place in colorful Rio de Janeiro with lots of beautiful women in skimpy outfits.

But even if you like mindless action thrillers, it's best to check your brain at the door of this one. The wild action sequences are nifty but defy logic and the laws of physics. The plot has gaping holes so big you could drive a Hummer through them. Buffed muscle stars Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson face off in a predictable cops-and-robbers caper that's all been done before.

The story relies on ridiculous developments that could never happen in real life. But fans of this series won't care about these shortcomings. They come for the high octane feast of speed, fist fights and shoot-outs. They will not be disappointed by the demolition derby that fills the screen.


Foreign film one of the best this year

"Incendies" is a modern-day odyssey of adult children in search of their parents' past through love, war, hate, cruelty and, finally, forgiveness. This French Canadian film was an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film; it is easily one of the finest films of the year.

At the reading of Nawal Marfan's will, twins Jeanne and Simon are stunned at the bitterness in her final words ("your childhood was like a knife in the throat"). The real shock is their mother's request for them to find the father and brother they didn't know existed.

Jeanne starts with Nawal's Middle Eastern birthplace and as the story jumps about in time, a turbulent and complex life is revealed like layers of an onion. Jeanne and Simon realize they never knew this woman at all. How did Nawal — how will they — cope with the truth?

"Incendies" features finely nuanced yet strong performances, especially from Lubna Azabal as Nawal, as dignified as she is vulnerable.

So engrossing is this powerful story that you too will be shattered by an ending that delivers a one-two punch to the gut.

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa.

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