After a quick rise on the indie scene with Better Luck Tomorrow, Justin Lin helms his third outing in this fast-paced franchise and brings together an all-star team of players from the past installments to pull off a ludicrous job in Rio. Big Poppa Dom (Vin Diesel) settles in nicely as a gruff B-movie Danny Ocean leading his Brazillian Job crew with his now trusty No. 2 Brian (Paul Walker) against a corrupt drug lord (Joaquim de Almeida) and a no-nonsense U.S. federal agent (Dwayne Johnson).
There’s a real sense of play among Dom’s extended family, which is extending even further thanks to his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and Brian’s little speed racer on the way.
Fast Five zips along with references to all sorts of action cliches (U.S. Marshals, Bad Boys and the Paul Greengrass Bourne films to name a few) but it breezes past every one of them with mindless B-movie pedal to the metal glory. Lin is not shooting for authenticity when it comes to the chase sequences (this is not Bullitt or The French Connection) or the bludgeoning brutality of the fisticuffs (nor is this the man-to-man, hand-to-hand battle royale of The Bourne Ultimatum); what he does create is a more visceral thrill than can be achieved from what we’ve come to expect from the standard video-game POV experience.
It is, indeed, fast and furious, despite the fact that we are able to anticipate every hairpin turn. It will be curious to see where Lin’s sixth gear takes him — and us. Grade: B-plus
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