Fast Five

The first (and most important) piece of advice I’ll give you about Fast Five is don’t leave early. Halfway through the closing credits there’s a jaw-dropper of a bonus scene that perfectly sets up the sixth film in the series… which, for my money, can’t get here soon enough.

The second piece of advice is sit back, strap on your seat belt, and enjoy the best reboot of a movie franchise I’ve seen in a long time.

When our heroes first arrived in 2001’s The Fast and the Furious, we were given a raucous, nitrous-fueled, car flick– jam-packed with street racing, more racing, and then a little bit more.

In Fast Five, there are really only three chase scenes in the whole film… and one of them’s on foot. Fear not, though– the action still comes, well… fast and furious.

The story picks up right where 2009’s Fast and Furious left off. Dom (Vin Diesel) has been sentenced to 25 years and is being transported on the prison bus when Brian (Paul Walker), Mia (Jordana Brewster), and crew arrive to bust their buddy out.

They, of course, succeed and then hop a flight to Rio to immediately start planning their last big job—stealing three cars from a moving train. When the cars turn out to be the property of Brazil’s biggest drug kingpin, and there happen to also be DEA agents on board, all hell breaks loose. It ends with Dom and Brian jumping one of the cars off an insanely high cliff… and surviving.

Of course they survive. Of course they always get away from the bad guys. Of course they don’t even get a scratch when thugs are firing machine guns at them from only a dozen feet away. No one ever said this was real life. And that’s what makes Fast Five so damn fun. For two hours you’re blown into a testosterone-filled world where every woman is beautiful, every guy is either ripped or pretty (or both), and every bad guy has terrible aim.

After surviving their little cliffdiving fiasco, Brian and Dom come face to face with the kingpin himself, Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida, essentially reprising his role from 1994’s Clear and Present Danger). Of course, our heroes escape yet again, and they then begin to plan one last job (no… really, this time). They’re going to steal all of Reyes’ drug money– all $100 million. But first they need a team.

And with that, Fast Five becomes a rip-roaring, hilarious mix of the F/F films and Ocean’s 11. Dom and Brian bring all the old gang back together, reuniting with their buddies from the earlier flicks, including Tej (Ludacris), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), and Gisele (Gal Gadot). Snappy one-liners are fired like bullets, clever schemes are carried out with the greatest of ease, and, yes, even a few cars get nabbed along the way.

And if going up against the southern hemisphere’s biggest drug kingpin isn’t enough, the Feds are also chasing after our boys, too, in the person of Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). Man, these guys can’t catch a break.

Director Justin Lin (who also helmed #3 and #4) has really found his groove, even if it’s as simple as slamming his foot on the gas and never letting up until the end (and not even then, really). There are times you’ll think you’re in the middle of a Michael Bay flick, and that’s perfectly all right. With his trusty cinematographer Stephen F. Windon (The Pacific) by his side, Lin puts together a film that is pure, slick, full-throttle fun.

No, the script by Chris Morgan (who also wrote #3 and #4) won’t win any awards, but frankly, it doesn’t have to—that’s not why it’s here. If you want good writing, rent The King’s Speech or something. If you want a sure sign that summer is right around the corner, and if you want a crazy-fun adrenaline trip to prove it, Fast Five is your man.

And just so you don’t forget, I’ll remind you again—don’t leave early.

4/5 stars