Combustible Celluloid
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With: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, Matt Schulze, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Tego Calderon, Don Omar, Joaquim de Almeida, Dwayne Johnson, Elsa Pataky, Michael Irby, Fernando Chien, Alimi Ballard, Yorgo Constantine, Geoff Meed
Written by: Chris Morgan, based on characters created by Gary Scott Thompson
Directed by: Justin Lin
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, sexual content and language
Running Time: 130
Date: 04/14/2011

Fast Five (2011)

3 Stars (out of 4)

'Five' Senseless

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

After practically dooming the series with the terrible The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), director Justin Lin refreshed things by changing the series from testosterone-fueled car racing action to Ocean's Eleven and Italian Job-style heists. Surprisingly, against all odds, Fast Five becomes the best entry in the series so far.

After the events of the previous movie, Dominic (Vin Diesel) is arrested and sent to prison. So his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and boyfriend Brian (Paul Walker) break him out, and hightail it to Rio to hide out for a while. There, they get involved in a car robbery that goes badly; to avenge themselves and to earn enough money to clear their tarnished reputations, they assemble a team, and plan to steal a fortune from a local gangster (Joaquim de Almeida). Unfortunately, this involves breaking into police headquarters. Worse, a gung-ho cop (Dwayne Johnson) is after them and won't stop until they're caught.

Like the other movies in this series, Fast Five is still loaded with testosterone, objectifies women, and features lots of car chases. But at least it has some clever stunts and amazing set pieces. In particular, there's a great, bungled robbery in which the thieves try to steal three cars from a moving train, and at the climax, we get a has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed safe robbery involving two supercharged cars. These moments are beautifully handled, more so than the more typical shaky fight scenes.

Despite the movie's awkward length (130 minutes) and its general lack of originality or responsibility, it has enough slam-bang, popcorn-munching action to keep most fans happy.

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