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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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Junipero Serra: In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard. 
<p>Born on Spain’s island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of St. Francis’ childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he spent most of his time in the classroom—first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of St. Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero’s desire was to convert native peoples in the New World. </p><p>Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero’s left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross—sometimes life-threatening—for the rest of his life. For 18 years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there. </p><p>Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two <i>conquistadors</i>—one military, one spiritual—began their quest. José de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the 900-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph’s day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived. </p><p>Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra’s death. </p><p>Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous “Regulation” protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a “Bill of Rights” for Native Americans. </p><p>Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts—a move that has brought cries of “injustice” from some moderns. </p><p>Junipero’s missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight till dawn. He baptized over 6,000 people and confirmed 5,000. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988. Pope Francis canonized him in Washington, D.C., on September 23, 2015.</p> American Catholic Blog Hope and faith can outshine the darkness of evil. However dense the darkness may appear, our hope for the triumph of the light is stronger still. Though violence continues to stain us with blood, the shadows of death can be dissipated with one act of light.

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