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Pete Hammond’s Fast Five review is a masterpiece of quote whoring

By / 04.29.11

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When I first saw this week’s TV spots for Fast Five touting meaningless critic recommendations like “an adrenaline-pumping blast that leaves everything else in its dust!”, I thought I detected the distinct stench of our favorite professional shill Pete Hammond — that tinny aroma of mediocre generica. It turns out I was right, but I’m not here to pat myself on the back.  I’m here to share with you one of the most incredible pieces of bad PR writing masquerading as a film review you could ever read.  Quote whoring?  You betcha.  In fact, I’ll designate in bold those parts the studio has or may want to excerpt in their own marketing material.  It’s great because it adheres to the same theme, you see.

Summer roars to a start with Fast Five, which features some of the most exhilarating action sequences the screen has seen in years. It’s the best one yet in Universal’s testosterone-driven franchise, a series that ignited ten years ago with The Fast and the Furious and has sped on to four sequels. Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and new addition Dwayne Johnson are all rockin’ and relocated to Rio to fight drug lords and elude the FBI, a change of direction that gives the series more energy and greater ambition.

They’re “all rockin'”?  What the hell does the even mean? Are they “rockin'” like they’ve got rockin’ bods, or did they actually form some sort of band like the Partridge Family?  Or are they literally rockin’ back and forth like an autistic kid when you switch up his routine, or me when I read a Pete Hammond review?

With its Australian opening this week already reaping smash numbers, expect Fast Five to run up a blockbuster worldwide box office and fuel several more sequels.

What does this industry reportage have to do with a movie review, you ask?  Why nothing, except that it’s a window into Pete’s methodology.  Being uniformly positive about movies he knows will do well at the box office lends credence to his bio as a “film expert.” “See? I told you it was good!  The people have spoken! And I am their idiot-king!”

In service of one of the most exciting stunts in the series’ history, third time Fast director Justin Lin stages a remarkable set piece around a superfast train shuttling souped-up stolen cars under the watch of the DEA. And the owner of the cars, Brazilian drug lord Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), is also in peril of losing a key computer chip that opens a window on Rio’s entire underground drug trafficking world. When it falls into the wrong (or right) hands, the crew, the gang, FBI agent Hobbs (Johnson) and local cop Elena (Elsa Pataky) are in a race to find a bank vault containing over $100 million. Putting together a team in pure Mission Impossible fashion, the movie rises to its most complex set piece—the heist. As the plot thickens with gunfire, chases and fights…

“The film begins with gunfire, chases, and fights, and later, in an ingenious twist, the plot thickens with gunfire, chases, and fights.  It’s like a gunfire chase fight stew, made with gunfire chase fight roux.  Pew pew pew.”

…an interesting dynamic between Diesel and Johnson emerges with a man-on-man smack down that’s pure macho magic.

“A magical, macho, man-on-man smack down causes an interesting dynamic to emerge — my boner!”

Who says there’s no good action stars anymore?

Uh… people who don’t know the proper use of “there is” vs. “there are,” mostly?

Production elements are top notch, especially those from cinematographer Stephen F. Windon and the three person editing team.

See, I’m just the opposite.  I thought the cinematography and editing were great, but what really stood out for me was the production elements — picture, sound, color, stunts, graphics, sets, acting, cameras.  My favorite parts of this movie were truly the vague elements in some way relating to the construction of a movie.

Walker is fine but the show really belongs to Diesel and new cast member Johnson. Brewster is terrific among a team of all aces, including familiar faces Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang and Gal Gadot.

SPOILER ALERT: “Paul Walker is fine” is by far the most negative thing Pete Hammond says in this entire review.  Pete Hammond’s “Walker is fine” is the equivalent of Armond White’s “this plutocracy-foisted gutter feces intrudes bumblecore dithering on the quivering patina of Vin Diesel’s bourgeois onanism.”

As one character says, “Forget Mission: Impossible, this is freaking mission insanity!”

Are. You. F*cking. Kidding. Me.  Did he just quote the film’s dumbest, most bro-y junior-college philosophizing in his freaking review?  That’s a trick question, by the way, because he actually MIS-quoted it (it’s “mission freakin’ insanity”).  Stunning.  He and the guy who cut the trailer must’ve been sharing a desk, possibly a plate of nachos.

But with Lin, screenwriter Chris Morgan and the crack cast motoring at full speed, Fast Five is a hard-driving, adrenaline-pumping blast that leaves everything else in its dust. [BoxOfficeMagazine]

You know, I didn’t notice it at first, but I think this might have been a car metaphor.

Nothing against Pete Hammond as a person, but in a town full of people terrified to express an honest opinion, he’s pretty much par for course.  And call me crazy, but I kind of thought an honest opinion was a film critic’s job.


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