The Fast & the Furious was a surprising hit in 2001. Teaming untested males leads Paul Walker and Vin Diesel, both riding high after the success of their respective breakout films (She’s All That and Pitch Black respectively) the two men proved their ability to carry a Hollywood film on their shoulders. Since then there have been 3 sequels ranging from the abysmal The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift to 2009s Fast and Furious. It is the last entry that Fast and Furious 5 (or Fast 5 to those in the know) aimed to emulate both critically and at the box office.
Dominic Toretto (Diesel) is sentenced to time for killing a man with a wrench. His friend and former police officer Brian O’Connor (Walker) leads a daring escape after overturning the bus carrying Toretto to prison. Together the two men travel to Rio in Brazil to start new lives away from the crimes of their past. They get caught up working a ‘job’ for ruthless drug baron whilst simultaneously being hunted by relentless federal agent Luke Hobbs (The Rock).
The first thing to say about Fast & Furious 5 is that it isn’t going to win any Oscars. But you knew that. The film-makers also knew that and the film is played solely for fun. In this respect is a triumph. There is no sense of it taking itself seriously. Gone are the endless street races that dominated previous entries and it is instead a heist movie. Diesel and Walker both do their best and are passably entertaining as are the supporting cast who have all been in one of the previous 4 films. The exception to this being The Rock, who ends up stealing the show with his camp, shirt-ripping federal agent Luke Hobbs.
The action is fast-paced as you would expect from the title and the set-piece stunts are incredibly well thought-out and any hints of computer-generated shennenigans are forgotten in a ear-blistering explosion or a line of manly banter. It resembles a slightly camp 1980s Arnie action movie like Predator or Commando, with machismo oozing off of both leads and their entire crew. There’s even a nod to the franchise’s past when the four main male leads have a street race for $1 million, beginning with incredible line “Are we talkin’ or racin’?”
Fans of muscle-bound fighters will be happy to note that Vin Diesel and The Rock go toe-to-toe in a fight so epic that it literally takes them both through walls. It’s fun with a capital F and a huge step in the right direction for the franchise.