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Review: Fast & Furious 5

PUBLISHED: 14:23 22 April 2011

Fast & Furious 5

Fast & Furious 5

2011 Universal Studios

Rio de Janeiro is getting everything at the moment. Olympics, World Cup and now its very own Fast & Furious movie. It's probably a mixed blessing as far as the tourist board are concerned.

F&F5 promotes the view of Rio as a corrupt, crime-ridden, gun-laden sprawl of favelas. On the plus side, though, the traffic in downtown Rio is blissfully jam-free, with the kind of wide, empty boulevards only seen in car ad-verts.

Brainless fun, there’s a lot less of it about than is generally supposed. We’re constantly coerced into the notion of films that you can sit back, turn your brain off and enjoy but, more often than not , they are excruciating and joy-less.

F&F5 is genuinely entertaining – partly because it has exceptional action sequences and partly because it is so comfortable in its stupidity.

And it is very, very stupid. Nobody does stupid like Tyrese Gibson, the man who played The Token Black Soldier Who only Says Brainless Clichés in the Transformer movies, but even he doesn’t stand out here.

Deliberately stupid films are usually irritating, but there’s a childlike naivety to this. The characters may be grown-ups but their world view is so simplistic that when they say a dumb line or concoct a ludicrously convoluted, en-tirely impractical and self-defeating screechy car-based scheme to solve a problem, you half accept that this is what their character would say and do in that situation.

It’s like a Bugsy Malone version of Top Gear.

Five sees the three principals – car thief Vin Diesel, his sister Jordana Brewster and renegade cop Paul Walker – on the run in Rio and finding themselves on the wrong side of both the local mob boss and the federal agent Dwaynne Johnson. Their solution is to come up with a heist plan that makes the film resemble a remake of The Italian Job with the cast of The Expendables and the firepower of a Terminator film.

Director Justin Lin is hopeless at the basics like all that talking stuff but he is a whiz at the action scenes. No doubt many a laptop was frantically hammered to enhance these scenes, but a lot of it still looks like it is actually happening and they have some of the breathless charge of a 70s car chase.

The series seems to be gathering momentum. Five has a drawn-out Return of The King epilogue ending and a post-credits teaser scene to set up part six. As a series that seems to improve with each sequel, there could years left in its engine.

Fast And Furious Five (12A)

Director: Justin Lin

With: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwaynne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson and Elsa Pataky

Length: 130 mins

***

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