Fast Five, the fifth installment in the franchise that began with 2001’s The Fast and the Furious, brings back its original stars Vin Diesel as fearless car-thief Dom Toretto, and Paul Walker as cop-gone-rogue Brian O’Conner. The action’s moved to Rio de Janiero though, where our heroes assemble a team of their former associates to bring down the city’s most corrupt businessman, while also trying to evade a tenacious FBI agent played by Dwayne Johnson.
The movie hits the ground running with a thrilling opening scene in which O’Conner and his girlfriend Mia (played by Jordana Brewster) free Dom from an impending jail sentence by speeding recklessly into a hulking prison bus that goes crashing in the desert. From then on, it’s wall-to-wall action including rooftop chase scenes, a fantastic set-piece involving the theft of three custom-made sports cars from a moving train, and a preposterous-but-highly entertaining climatic heist in which Dom and Brian drive their muscle-cars through the streets of Rio dragging a massive vault that crashes and destroys everything in its way.
To refuel this franchise that was showing signs of strain in its last outing, the makers of Fast Five have broadened the appeal of this series by delivering a wholesome action movie instead of restricting themselves to the cops-versus-street-racers premise of previous films. Believe it or not there is more emphasis on the characters and their situation, than on the shiny automobiles that used to be the real stars earlier. The dialogue, unfortunately, is just as pithy and the acting remains one-note. Those robots in Transformers are more expressive than the cast of this movie.
In all fairness though, who’s looking for anything other than high-adrenalin action here? The stunts are crazy and often jaw-dropping, the slums of Rio lend a gritty edge to the visual landscape of this film, and there’s even a hint of sexist humor like in that scene in which a female member of Dom’s team secures their rival’s fingerprints in a most ingenious manner.
It’s loud and dumb, but also undeniably good fun. I’m going with three out of five for Fast Five. Like junk food it’s a guilty pleasure to be enjoyed, then quickly forgotten.