First Trailer Online for Fast Five – Dwayne Johnson draws my attention.

The first official trailer has just debuted online for the fifth film in the Fast and Furious franchise, titled Fast Five. To mix things up a little, Dwayne Johnson is starring in a combative role versus Vin Diesel. Specifically, Johnson plays a rough and ready federal agent trying to track down Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) – they may have the advantage of speed, but he’s definitely the one with brawn: driving an armoured 10 ton gurkha truck (like “a humvee on steroids”).

Fast Five is out on April 29th 2011.

I was never that big a fan of the Fast and Furious franchise. The movies always just struck me as a lot of mindless action strung together with a weak plot, with the result that I’ve only watched two or three of them. The latest one however, is firmly on my film radar. And why? Because Dwayne Johnson, the guy most people will until (relatively) recently have known simply as wrestling icon, The Rock, is joining the cast in a major role.

Johnson started pretty meekly, a flurry of tacky kids movies (think The Game Plan), and started flickering in my peripherals when he starred in Get Smart next to Steve Carrell. To draw laughs away from Carrell is surely not the easiest thing, but despite generally being a crappy movie, Johnson derived a lot of humour from his role, and was one of the few good things about the film in general.

Then came The Other Guys, a film I’ve lauded time and time again. Working alongside Will Ferrell, Johnson really showed that he’s not just hard as nails, he’s a seriously funny mofo. Ranking second only to Superbad in terms of my favourite American comedies, The Other Guys is a hilarious action comedy – don’t miss it. Now though, Johnson is firmly stepping away from comedy and towards adrenaline pumped, Diesel fuelled, steering-wheel action (excuse the pun). In addition to his role in Fast Five, he’s the lead in Faster (no relation), and is one of the executive producers behind Racing Dreams. With his involvement in so many exciting and high profile projects, it would be safe to say that his career is definitely in the fast lane at the minute. And all the power to him, judging by Collider’s recent interview, he’s a damned fine fellow.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSDNZeRX_1Y[/youtube]

Fast Five official synopsis is as follows:

Vin Diesel and Paul Walker lead a reunion of returning all-stars from every chapter of the explosive franchise built on speed in Fast Five. In this installment, former cop Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) partners with ex-con Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) on the opposite side of the law. Dwayne Johnson joins returning favorites Jordana Brewster, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Matt Schulze, Tego Calderon and Don Omar for this ultimate high-stakes race.

Since Brian and Mia Toretto (Brewster) broke Dom out of custody, they’ve blown across many borders to elude authorities. Now backed into a corner in Rio de Janeiro, they must pull one last job in order to gain their freedom. As they assemble their elite team of top racers, the unlikely allies know their only shot of getting out for good means confronting the corrupt businessman who wants them dead. But he’s not the only one on their tail.

Hard-nosed federal agent Luke Hobbs (Johnson) never misses his target. When he is assigned to track down Dom and Brian, he and his strike team launch an all-out assault to capture them. But as his men tear through Brazil, Hobbs learns he can’t separate the good guys from the bad. Now, he must rely on his instincts to corner his prey…before someone else runs them down first.

Not sure if this’ll be the last instalment of the drawn out franchise, but if it keeps pulling in big bucks then I doubt it. As with the previous films, this is likely to be a pretty safe bet if you like fast cars, and you like hot girls (and let’s be honest, how many of us don’t?)

Get Him To The Greek and other tall, tasteless tales

Get Him To The Greek transpired to be as grating and atrocious as I thought it would be. Another ill-conceived comedy that was a waste of time, money and…actually, isn’t wasting time and money bad enough?? I’m hard pressed to decide if Get Him is the worst comedy of the year, or whether it still upstages Hot Tub Time Machine. Despicable as it is, I’m inclined to lean towards the latter.

Russell Brand and Jonah Hill no doubt perform their parts just as the director intended, but Brand appears to spoof himself and Hill, who is so naturally funny it would be an effort for him not to inspire laughter, tries to get by on charisma alone (which is limited in a character who spends the majority of the film vomiting on himself and others).

Speaking of regurgitating shit, Sean Combs is sickeningly awful as Hill’s foul mouthed “fuck” spouting boss, the black man reeling off gangsta homie stereotypes one after the other.

The humour is crass and unoriginal, a rehash of every other tasteless comedy in the past decade. In fact, the only joke in the film is the plot, summed up completely in the tagline/ detailed synopsis: Aaron Green has 72 hours to get a Rock Star from London to L.A.

It’s easy to see why this film reached an audience, it’s about as thick, uninspired and uninteresting as the general population. Sad though, that whilst the Apatow tag has now been associated with so many good or great comedies (think Superbad, Talladega Nights, The 40 Year Old Virgin), his name is also becoming code for: ‘cheap tack slapstick – avoid at all costs’.

Maybe you, like me, attend each of his comedies in the hope that another will be among the levels of comic genius expressed in Freaks and Geeks, or as inspired as Superbad. These days it seems like we’re out of luck. Genuine wit is being pissed away in favour of the school boy toilet humour epitomised by Harry Enfield back in the 90s. It wasn’t funny then and it definitely isn’t now. What we need are more comic pioneers – Simon Pegg, Chris Morris, Steve Coogan, Julian Barratt, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, even the K man. (I’ve just realised my list is entirely British…how unintentional. Anyone fancy helping me out with some great US equivalents?)

In the meantime, I’ll settle for more along the lines of The Other Guys – where Ferrell and Wahlberg strike comedy gold, perhaps largely down to director and co-writer, Adam McKay (also the name behind Anchorman). He can start the US list of funnies then…

PS. Even the notoriously negative Peter Bradshaw raves and dollops a full 5*s to The Other Guys – I don’t want to big the man up too far (he chats a lot of shit) but in this instance, he’s not wrong. See his review here.