Fast Five (Universal) takes the fast cars and speed-demon criminals of the surprisingly resilient action franchise to Rio, which becomes more than just an exotic landing pad for the wanted crew.
After kicking off with a prison transport jailbreak (because they don’t take on any job that doesn’t include precision driving and auto mayhem), the core team—street smart crew chief Dom (Vin Diesel), ex-cop turned outlaw Brian (Paul Walker) and Dom’s sister/Brian’s girl Mia (Jordana Brewster)—reunites co-conspirators from all four previous installments to take on a drug lord and heist a cool $100 million. Meanwhile Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who signs on as their new nemesis. “This guy, he’s Old Testament,” explains Brian. “Blood, bullets, wrath of God. That’s his style.” Okay, whatever. Mainly he’s a humorless cartoon character of an American agent whose brawny presence that makes him a veritable double for Vin Diesel, minus the street-smart grin.
You can credit Justin Lin for keeping the franchise as supercharged as it has become. “Fast Five” isn’t particularly smart or savvy as a heist film or a battle of wits but Lin knows how to keep things moving, whether it’s a footchase through the alleys and over the corrugated roofs of the favelahs or a precision-driving getaway with tandem cars dragging a bank vault. They, of course, turn this anchor into a wrecking cube of a weapon. Forget physics, it’s just a fun blast of action movie ingenuity, as is the film as a whole. These guys make robbing a mobster into a party game for criminal buddies who revel in the adrenaline rush of speed and psych-outs between the rubber and the road.