Kicking off with a reprise of the scene that closed 2009's Fast & Furious, the sequel (called either Fast Five or Fast & Furious 5: Rio Heist depending on where you're reading this) sees Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) and his girlfriend Mia Toretto (Jordanna Brewster) springing her brother Dom (Vin Diesel) from police custody. Soon the trio are back to their old ways in Brazil, stealing expensive sports cars in a manner more spectacular than just strolling into a dealership and driving away with their targets. When they find themselves on the wrong side of Rio's number one gangster Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida) and wanted by DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson), they assemble an all-star team - including Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot and Ludacris - to pull off "one last job" and break away with $11 million apiece.
After two fast-paced action sequence back-to-back, it's the introduction of the wise-cracking Roman that lends the film some much-needed humour amongst all the glistening vehicles and bulls**t macho posturing. While Gibson's character grated as a lead in 2 Fast 2 Furious, as a supporting player he's juggled around the ensemble and his one-liners provide welcome relief. It's Dwayne Johnson, though, who steals the movie as the dogged federal agent with his crosshairs on the heist crew. He's all frowns and fury, dispensing terse bon mots and squaring up to Diesel with flared nostrils and sweat beads dripping off of his brow.
Hobbs and Dom's clashes seem like a throwback to the '80s action oeuvre. The heroes of modern blockbusters (think Matt Damon and Shia LaBeouf) regress to raging musclebound tough guys who solve problems with their fists. In one hilarious scene, Hobbs takes a glance at some paperwork handed to him by rookie cop Elena (Elsa Pataky) and throws it emphatically to the floor. Brawn over brains just about sums up Fast & Furious 5, but there are giddy thrills to be had if you're prepared to embrace its over-the-top acting, gaping plot holes and sheer stupidity.
Fast & Furious 5 can be defined as "good" if you look at it purely from a guilty pleasure level. It's all inadvertently very funny, but director Justin Lin injects enough energy into the film - partly thanks to the vibrant Rio backdrop (but hey, this is no City of God or Bus 174) - to keep you with it in spite of all its flaws.
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