There is an incredible amount to criticise in this fifth instalment to the Fast and Furious franchise but, strangely, only one real complaint to be made.
For the majority of this shamelessly B-grade cheese-fest – in which the dialogue sounds not just like it was written for, but also written by, its motorhead stars – Fast and FuriouS 5 is the most enjoyable two-star film that you will see all year.
For this chapter of criminal car love – and a post -credits scene strongly hints that it won’t be the last – the action is transplanted seamlessly to Rio, as the Furious trio of Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster find themselves on the run from a team of US lawmen lead by Dwayne Johnson – a worthy addition to the Furious franchise – and on the wrong side of local underworld king-pin Reyes.
Their logical response is, of course, to bring in a team of cohorts to wreak their revenge. The ultra-high reading on the laugh-out-loud scale for the film’s corny clichés is, thankfully, matched by the intensity and complexity of the car stunts. Both provide shameless thrills and chuckles.
Then the one thing happens that should never be allowed to happen in these films, regardless of the express wishes of Dwayne Johnson: the stars get out of the cars.
For half an hour we are subjected to a tedious Fast and Furious Ocean’s Eleven as Dom and Brian attempt to become criminal masterminds and contrive a cunning strategy. Then, thankfully, moonlighting wrestler Johnson and his fistful of throwaway lines burst on to the scene and remind everyone what we’re here for: an action-packed, loud and ludicrous, logic-free final act.
Fast and Furious 5 was initially called Fast Five, but was renamed, one assumes, because they were worried that their audience wouldn’t get it.
That decision, along with the rest of the film, proves that these people know their audience. Fast and Furious 5 is not good, it’s car-crunchingly, Brazil-bashingly, eye-winkingly B grade.
However, it’s monumentally enjoyable at the same time and certain to leave passionate fans of the franchise whooping and hollering with joy.