Justin Lin continues to prove that he’s one of the most capable action movie directors out there with the fifth installment of the Fast and the Furious franchise. Characters from the previous four films (yes, including Tokyo Drift) assemble in Rio to take on a multi-millionaire drug lord and his army of corrupt cops. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson makes his debut in the series as a no-nonsense federal agent who’s built like an action figure and thus fits in nicely. The cast, led by mainstays Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, are surprisingly charming, even Diesel’s lack of charisma and acting range are easily ignored amidst the endless barrage of over-the-top action scenes that viewers have come to expect. The crew torch the side off of a moving train, jump from roof to roof down the city’s crowded slopes, and, in a memorable climax, flee from cops in a high-speed chase that involves a giant safe being dragged through the streets by two cars. It’s a ton of fun that’s difficult to criticize as it knows exactly what it is and what its audience wants, although lines like “This just turned from Mission Impossible to Mission In-freakin’-sanity” should provoke some eye rolling amongst more sophisticated movie-goers. Viewers can only imagine what lays in store for the inevitable sixth film, which is hinted at halfway during the credits. So stick around for that.
Fast Five opens wide in Philadelphia-area theaters today.