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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Fast Five

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Paul Walker and Vin Diesel star in a scene from the movie "Fast Five."
No one watches the "The Fast and the Furious" franchise for plot nuances and sparkling dialogue, and on that score, "Fast Five" (Universal) is true to form.

Speeding cars, crashes galore, soaring leaps, heavily muscled monosyllabic actors, gunplay, explosions. You know the drill.

So what's new this time? There's an all-star cast, combining actors from the previous four films; it's set in Rio de Janeiro; and the villains are a corrupt Brazilian police chief (Joaquim de Almeida) and his henchmen, who together operate a multimillion-dollar drug ring.

Other than that, director Justin Lin and screenwriter Chris Morgan keep the pace pleasantly and predictably speedy, with occasional comedic dialogue to indicate that no one is taking the proceedings all that seriously. It's a theme-park ride of a movie, with muscle cars.

As the engines rev up, Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker), a former police officer, "rescues" convicted thief Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) from the bus taking him to a state prison. From there, the duo winds up south of the border—way south—in the self-proclaimed "Marvelous City."

But where the furious go, legal complications follow. Falsely accused in the death of three U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency operatives, the merry band assembled by Brian and Dom—which includes Tej (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges), Mia (Jordana Brewster), Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Han (Sung Kang)—plan another mission they hope will achieve their freedom—financially, at least.

Their goal: Steal millions in ill-gotten gains from the police boss, utilizing skills that range from high-tech skullduggery to amazing driving techniques.

Hot on their trail, however, is federal agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), who has considerable street-fighting abilities of his own.

Dom, by the way, is shown to be Catholic; he wears a cross and on one occasion blesses himself. Needless to say, he's hardly a poster child for the faith, but he does express a firm set of family values, and is quite well-grounded, considering his chosen profession.

The film contains much gun and physical violence, a premarital pregnancy, a few instances of profanity, frequent crude and crass language, and fleeting sexual banter. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog Heavenly Father, I am sure there are frequently tiny miracles where you protect us and are present to us although you always remain anonymous. Help me appreciate how carefully you watch over me and my loved ones all day long, and be sensitive enough to stay close to you. I ask this in Jesus's name. Amen.

 
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