Bless me father of all critic gods for I have sinned: I liked Fast Five. I watched the cars smashing in IMAX and smiled. And for over two hours, I couldn’t wipe the big stupid grin off my face. Fast Five almost erased the memory of the first three sequels that followed 2001’s surprisingly road-ready The Fast and the Furious. It’s not that the actors got better. Vin Diesel is the same block of concrete he ever was as Dominic Toretto, the street racer busted for hijacking, and Paul Walker still can’t invent a new variation of bland as the undercover agent who nailed him.
Over the years, the two became allies, especially when Brian found true love with Dom’s sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster). Jeez, you can’t possibly care about any of this. Fans of the series already know the drill. Newbies will probably keep their distance. But to my eyes, the cast has relaxed into their own ineptitude. They’re enjoying the whole crazy business. And you will too. The new excuse for plot involves Brian and Mia busting Dom out of prision. Then they all head for Brazil, where the birds don’t talk like they do in the animated Rio. Instead, the team, including return visits from Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) and Sung Kang, steal more cars and get on the bad side of Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), a drug kingpin who has the Rio cops in his pocket.
The plan is to take #11 million of the bad hombre’s vault and turn the F&F franchise into a heist movie. Damn it, it works. Justin Lin, who misdirected the last two sequels, finds his pace this time, staging dynamite action around the Rio favelas. Best of all, Dwayne Johnson (“The Rock”) shows up as an F.B.I. agent eager to bring our team down. It’s a hoot watching Johnson and Diesel upstage the muscle cars by showing off their bulging biceps and tats in a display of homoerotic porn. The final chase is killer. And the getting there actually is half the fun. Fast Five will push all your action buttons, and some you haven’t thought of. So what if you hate yourself in the morning.