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What We Learned From The Fast Five Trailer

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The Fast Five trailer hit today, and boy oh boy if the latest instalment in the Fast & Furious franchise doesn't look like a hilariously over-the-top slice of deep-fried action gold. Sure, it's going to clog up your arteries and doesn't exactly qualify as movie health food, but it does look like it packs in more kiss, kiss and bang, bang than any ten normal films. Whether the film lives up to this wonderfully on-the-nose trailer remains to be seen, but we thought that this cliche-heavy effort deserved a little dissection so that we can all fully appreciate its goodness. Ladies and gentlemen, the trailer cliches of Fast Five...

We're somewhere exotic, see? If you're going to set your movie somewhere cool - whether that's New York, or halfway up a mountain or, as in this case, in Rio de Janeiro, or anywhere more exotic than Des Moines, in fact - you'd better take a moment to introduce the audience to your location with the help of a handy helicopter shot showing a local landmark. Remember to use a really big landmark, too: Big Ben works, or the Golden Gate Bridge, or the Hollywood sign. If you've ever wondered why more action films aren't set in Copenhagen, it's cause that little mermaid statue is far too small to qualify.

If it's a sequel and you're getting the gang back together, you'd better have a scene where everybody, er, gets back together. This reminds the inattentive viewer that they've seen these folk somewhere before and that, in movie-land, they all know each other. You're also going to need to establish What Our Heroes Want. In this case, that appears to be Lots Of Money, which is at least an understandable MacGuffin. Bonus points in this case for Ludacris' Tej, who rocks up in what appears to be the Winchesters' ride from Supernatural (a black Chevy Impala, anyway; you'll have to tell us if it's the same model year).

Here's a sneaky two-fer scene. On one hand, it's time to meet the big antagonist of the piece, Dwayne Johnson's Hobbs. His Rockness is the head of an elite unit who's made it his mission to bring in Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto and Paul Walker's Brian O'Conner, and this scene establishes that he's driven (he arrives at night! And walks with purpose!) and important (there's someone to meet him!) and tough (He's The Rock!). But that's not the only thing going on here: he also gets a chance to talk up how cool the heroes are, see? That line about, "We don't ever, ever let them get in their cars" provides a total LOL for those in the know, and lets everyone else know that Toretto and O'Conner are all good at escaping and such.

It's a truth universally acknowledged that the Fast & Furious movies are full of long, lingering, damn-near pornographic shots. Many of these are directed at the cars, but a sizeable minority focus lovingly on the bevy of scantily-clad women who apparently materialise anywhere that two or more muscle cars gather together. Because men who talk incessantly about their gearsticks and spinners are so sexy. Presumably these shots are there because you can't talk about carburettors all the time. Or to allow witty audience members to make sotto voce gags to their friends along the lines of, "Phwoar, look at the hubcaps on her!" Anyway, in case there was any doubt that this effort would respect the fine-old traditions of the franchise, let those doubts now be put to rest.

Those of you who are still lingering in 2008 may not be aware that The Rock has recently joined Twitter. There, it has emerged that he tends to use the word "Boom!" as a punctuation mark. That's an approach also followed by this trailer: as we are now over a minute in, it's time for a fireball! Boom! In case the message wasn't clear, Paul Walker elaborates: "We just went from a little on the Most Wanted list to the very top." Just for emphasis, let's flip another car, eh? Boom!

Let's knock it down a gear for a moment, put her in cruise and generally slow down to remind everyone that this is, at heart, a character piece. It falls to that philosopher of our time, Vin Diesel, to reflect that, "Runnin' ain't freedom". He is, no doubt, haunted by the death of his true love Michelle Rodriguez in the last film. We can only hope that he will find some measure of happiness should this heist go to plan, and that one of those hot new girls will apply balm to his emotional wounds. It's not just cars and miniskirts: there's depth here too. That's an important thing to remember in trailers; otherwise, you might get overlooked by the Academy next year.

Who'd win in a fight between Vin Diesel and The Rock? Well, The Rock, obviously: he's the size of a house. But in film-land, we're going to get a chance to see the outcome played out as the two resort to fisticuffs when their protracted and no-doubt lengthy philosophical discussions fail to reach a satisfactory outcome. Expect everything in sight to be reduced to rubble, but these two to remain standing.

A thought: given that perennial bad guy Joaquin de Almeida also appears in this instalment (although barely in this trailer), will El Rockerino prove to be the Big Bad in the third act, or will it be a corrupt foreigner played by the dude from Clear And Present Danger? You decide!

It's up to Tyrese to deliver the moral of this story: "This just went from mission impossible to mission in-freakin'-sanity!" Shakespeare, eat your heart out! Amid the foot chases, car chases, explosions, girls in bikinis and crashes, it's also a rather pithy summation of events so far - and it's immediately followed, just for emphasis, by a mid-air collision between a rather lovely car and a moving train. Will no one think of the bodywork?

A moment or two later, Diesel delivers another downbeat moment, just to remind us that he is, after all, a serious actor. "Chances are, sooner or later, we're going to end up behind bars or buried in a ditch somewhere." Well that sort of brings us down. But he's not finished! "But not today!" he finishes, triumphantly grinning. We suspect he ripped that off from Aragorn in The Return of the King.

Pauline Kael, of The New Yorker, titled her second collection of reviews Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and explained the title as "perhaps the briefest statement imaginable of the basic appeal of movies." It's a sentiment that these trailer cutters have taken literally, neatly montaging a collection of action snippets (including, yes, more explosions) with a couple of snogs. This thing's almost a meta-trailer, a distillation of trailer-iness into one uber-trailer style package. But we need a couple more ingredients...

The Dark Knight had the truck flip. Titanic had the shot down from the prow of the ship as it sank. If you have a huge stunt shot in your movie, make sure to mash that sucker into the trailer. And since everybody loves cars going off cliffs (hey, it worked for Star Trek. And Thelma & Louise) it makes sense to throw one in here.

The only problem with this shot is that it's probably given some of you painful flashbacks to a similar moment in xXx. Just take deep breaths and put your head between your knees until you feel better, eh?

With your sides aching and a conviction that surely this can't get any cheesier, they hit you with one final shot: the walk to camera. By Toretto's entire crew. Wearing nicely toning shades of white. Take that, Reservoir Dogs! BOOM!