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Fugitive Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) partners with former cop Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) on the opposite side of the law in exotic Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There they are hunted by a high-powered US strike force led by their toughest Fed (Dwayne Johnson) and an army of corrupt cops working for a ruthless drug kingpin. To gain their freedom and win this ultimate high-stakes race, they must pull off one last job — an insane heist worth $100 million.
More is less is generally the case with blockbuster sequels these days, with budgetary bloat often overshadowing the qualities that made the original film click with audiences. The Fast and the Furious movies, however, somehow manage to spin doughnuts around this concept of diminishing returns, with each installment becoming more ridiculously entertaining. Fast Five may be the most overblown entry in the series to date (which is saying quite a bit), but there’s a dunderheaded earnestness to it that’s hard to resist. This time around, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker and Co. go for an Ocean’s 11 vibe–swapping out the Armani and martinis for Ed Hardy and Muscle Milk–as the gang go on the lam in Rio following a botched train heist. On the lookout for one final big score, they set their sights on bankrupting the local kingpin (an admirably straight-faced Joaquim de Almeida), calling in seemingly every character in the mythos for help. Stuff goes vroom and boom in mass quantities. Perhaps realizing that the formula may be in danger of reaching its shelf date, returning director Justin Lin here livens things up by bringing in Dwayne Johnson as a federal agent with a fearsome grudge. When he and Diesel eventually throw down, the building-busting destruction recalls the immortal War of the Gargantuas. Viewers in the mood for a little logic with their explosions may initially scoff, but by the time the final chase scene rolls around (an outrageously sustained kinetic set piece that would make Wile E. Coyote proud) it’s tough to keep back the grins. Heaven only knows what the next sequel will bring (Send them back to colonial times? A race against Cthulhu in outer space? Pit them against Dick Dastardly and Muttley?), but there’s every confidence that these folks will somehow pull it off. —Andrew Wright
Specification: Fast Five