Asian director Justin Lin picks up directly where part 4 (Fast and Furious) left off, where thief Dom was heading to jail for his crimes. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson joins the cast for the first time in this Rio de Janeiro-set installment, and regulars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and Jordana Brewster all return. The Rock finally seems to be back on the right track with more hard hitting action films with “Faster” and now this. I can only hope that we see him in more movies of this genre and maybe just maybe i can get over the Tooth Fairy. Anyway, the plot of the film is fairly simple as they are all wanted by the FBI and a Brazilian crimelord, whose money they intend to steal by putting together a crack team.
As per usual for this franchise — which celebrates bad behavior and bravado — expect lots of car chases, fighting, action, violence, and some sexual content. It was cool to see all the characters from a number of the previous Fast and Furious films brought together to form a new, super crew; intent on undertaking one last big job. Say what you will about these mindless films, but aside from Tokyo Drift, I have thoroughly enjoyed them all. Make no mistake, this is no masterpiece of the dramatic arts but it is probably the best since the original. Also, I’ve never been too fond of Michelle Rodgriguez, and so I’m glad that she won’t be around for Fast Five. That’s good too, makes plenty of sense, as her character died in the last one.
In this new entry of the franchise, the CG-assisted car chases are long gone and it seems like the illegal street races that made the first film so geniune has completely gone away. I don’t view these films as import racing films anymore but rather just general action films. Justin Lin spends much less time admiring automobiles and more time establishing character and relationships and setting up the big score so that the action pay-offs. The upside to that is the action scenes are legit. Lin makes full use of his beautiful location in a rooftop chase scene (shot in Puerto Rico, not Brazil) that looks like something out of a Die Hard movie. The colossal budget allows for unhinged carnage on the roads and the Rock vs. Diesel fight is pretty cool.
All in all, I won’t mind if there is a 6th or 7th film in the franchise as it shows no signs of the franchise getting stale (I’m looking at your Saw). The only real downside I can really exclaim is the pointless romantic subplots. Nobody cares about those. Vin Diesel probably mourns the loss of Michelle Rodriguez more in this film than in the film where she actually died, but that doesn’t stop him from locking lips with another woman. Other then that, I say this is worth the price of admission and make sure you stay during the end credits, as it appears that film goers get a hint of a 6th entry in the future. Let us just hope Paul Walker and Diesel aren’t one-trick ponies and branch out a bit after this. The high energy, live-by-the-seat-of-your-pants lifestyle of the many colourful characters of the franchise makes for an excellent invitation.