Dir. by Justin Lin - 2 hrs. 10 min.
I'm just going to get to the nitty-gritty here: it's fine if you don't like the "Fast & Furious" series of movies, but you've had something like a decade to complain about them already, so save your breath. This installment, in particular, plays like a bro-tastic version of one of the "Ocean's Eleven" films. That's a pretty big compliment, too.
"Fast Five" comes on the heels of the fourth installment, "Fast & Furious." Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) are all on the run, meeting up in Rio de Janeiro. After a fundraising job goes haywire, leading to the deaths of three DEA agents, the U.S. government is sufficiently pissed off to send Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and a special forces team down to Rio to haul Dom and crew in. Things quickly complicate from there, loudly and spectacularly, culminating in a daring heist of a vault from the Rio police headquarters.
There are a couple of big things to consider in a movie like this. First, the big action sequences have to deliver. And I felt that they did just that. There are several sequences worth mentioning, like when Brian and Mia boost Dom from his jail transport, or the initial foot chase through the favelas between Hobbs' crew and Mia/Brian/Dom. But the big two over-deliver, and are both spectacle and spectacular. The botched train robbery of some very nice cars early on is great and suspenseful, and ends impressively.
Once the main characters get their bearings a bit, "Fast Five" turns into "Ocean's Eleven" (to the point where they even mention needing to put a team together). This is where literally every character from the series who's still alive returns to get a piece of the action (which is $100 million in cash). This is both the benefit of following a series of films, and the benefit of having some on-screen history to work with. But instead of jazzy sophistication, sharp suits, and a Vegas back-drop, we get a non-stop parade of lust-worthy vehicles, jacked-up guys and slinky, sexy women, and Rio de Janeiro (which is a visual feast).
The last third or so of the film is the heist itself, and it's pretty awesome (in the sense that it's awe-inspiring). Dom and Brian tear a huge part of Rio a new one (seriously, the amount of destruction they cause in their escape is both impressive and horrifying), and the twist works well. I'd be more specific about things, but the whole sequence is something that a viewer should probably experience on their own for the first time. And the whole thing just works. It's easy to complain about the dialogue or the tough-guy posturing over the course of the series, but again, you already knew that going in, and dialogue doesn't really matter when Dom and Brian are flooring it, trying to get away from an entire city's police force, meanwhile leaving a wake of destruction behind them.
I know that when you hit a fifth movie in a series, people pretty much already know if they're interested in a fifth installment or not. Although there are some elements to this series of films that aren't exactly topics for serious discussion, I respect the fact that each film hasn't been the exact same thing. So if you do go see this one, don't leave until the credits are done. I was kind of pissed off and simultaneously excited after the short end scene - now I need to see the sixth one.
3.5 / 5 - Theatre