Hey action fans, it’s Slick Dungeon here! I’m back for the fifth movie in the Fast and Furious franchise, just called Fast Five. This review is going to have spoilers for the first five movies in the franchise so if you haven’t seen them yet, hop in your ten second car, buckle up, hit that NOS button to get to the movies, speed watch through them and race on back here so fast police security cameras can’t spot you, and read the review after. Or, you can read my reviews of the first four films instead. You can check out my review of The Fast and the Furious here, 2 Fast 2 Furious here, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift here and Fast and Furious here.
The first four Fast and Furious movies sort of fall into a similar pattern. There’s a set of outlaws, there are cops trying to catch the outlaws, usually there is a drug deal going down, and there is a race that settles things. While that is certainly simplifying the movies, they did essentially pull this trick off over and over again. But with the end of the fourth film, the franchise set itself up to be able to change direction, introduce new characters, bring beloved characters together in the same film, and sort of change the DNA of what a Fast and Furious film could be. That’s a lot to ask of a film so pulling it off would be a particularly challenging feat.
So, did the movie deliver, not just on more action, more stunts, more cars and more races, but also make the films something more than a standard playbook? Let’s dig in and find out!
Spoilers follow below!
The Whole BAnd Gets Together
At the end of the fourth movie, Dom Toretto was in a bus on his way to jail. But, Brian was about to pull off a major escape plan for Dom. There’s a stunt at the beginning where the team makes the bus roll over, allowing Dom to escape. Somehow no one is killed in the crash but we’ll just go with that. With Dom’s release this makes Brian, Mia, Tego Leo, Rico Santos and Dom all wanted fugitives.
They go on the run to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, although Dom is separated from the group. Brian and Mia are trying to lay low and they go to see Vince from the first movie. Vince is leading a fairly decent life and even has a little family. But Vince also has a way for Brian and Mia to get enough money to live for a while. There’s a job where they can steal some cars off of a moving train. Vince, Mia and Brian go to do the job, along with a couple of guys who work for a drug lord named Herman Reyes. This guy runs everything in Rio. In the middle of the job, Brian realizes the cars they are stealing are impounded by the DEA, and Dom shows up out of nowhere to help steal the vehicles. The guys working for Reyes are interested in one particular car but Dom arranges it so Mia gets that car and drives off with it. In the middle of the job, two DEA agents are killed by Reyes’ men. The theft sequence is a lot of fun and it’s a pretty big set piece with lots of fast cars, explosions, and physics defying action.
Dom and his people get the car Reyes’ men wanted back to his garage. Inside the car, they find out there is a computer chip that’s really important to Reyes for some reason.
Next we get introduced to a major character in the franchise. DSS Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne, “The Rock” Johnson) is a no nonsense officer who is willing to take down his man with efficiency and precision. He’s after Brain and Dom and heads to Brazil to get them. He also recruits a rookie police officer who can’t be corrupted because she’s got it out for Reyes. Everyone else in Rio is on Reyes’ payroll. Hobbs figures out there is something missing from the car in the garage Dom was using.
Meanwhile, Dom figures out the chip is a delivery schedule which has every location where Reyes is conducting his illegal business. Dom has a plan to get everyone out of the life they are living, no longer worried about being on the run from the law. But he’s going to need a team.
This is where we get a bunch of characters from the previous films to come together for the first time. We have Brian, Mia, and Dom together but we also add Roman and Tej from the second film, Han from the third film, and Gisele from the fourth film. Dom explains what everyone’s role is and the movie, in essence becomes a heist film from here on out.
Dom finds one of Reyes’ drug spots, gathers all the money there together and burns it, telling the henchmen that Dom is coming for all of Reyes’ money. This causes Reyes to consolidate his funds.
And consolidate he does. Reyes owns the city so much that he is able to put all of his money into a police station for safe keeping. It’s over a hundred million dollars so if they pull off the job, everyone will get around eleven million a piece. They have to get some fast cars together, figure out how to bypass security, and get away without being caught by Hobbs.
At one point Hobbs catches up with Dom and tries to arrest him but it’s in the middle of a huge crowd and Dom just straight up has Hobbs and his men outgunned so Hobbs walks away. But Dom notices the rookie officer found the cross necklace Dom got from Letty around her neck. He goes to get it back from the rookie cops apartment and she lets him go because she believes Dom didn’t kill the men on the train.
Dom and our gang of anti-heroes try to get cars that can go fast enough to get past security cameras but even the fastest cars with the best drivers are spotted. But Dom still has a plan. Also, Gisele flirts with Reyes and gets his fingerprints from her bikini so they will be able to open the safe.
Dom’s plan for cars that can get in and out of the police station? It’s fantastic. Steal the cop cars. Such a bold idea and it’s one of the best parts of the whole movie. Dom, Roman, Han, and Brian bet each other a million dollars on the race out of there with the police cars. And this tine, Dom doesn’t cheat, there is no NOS, and driver to driver, Brian finally wins. But Roman and Han say Dom let off the throttle and let him win, leaving the audience and Brian with doubts of who is really the best driver.
Vince, who has split off from the group because he was in with Reyes’ men, grabs Mia before Reyes’ men can kill her. Vince gets to be part of the family again. And Dom says he can be part of the job to steal the money.
Also, Mia is pregnant, and Roman says Dom letting Brian win was a baby gift. Dom makes a toast to family and they get ready for the big job.
Cops descend on MIa, Brian Dom, and Vince. Dom stays to let everyone get away and we get to see a fight between Hobbs and Toretto. These are two huge dudes who do major damage to everything around them, including crashing through walls. Dom has Hobbs dead to rights and could smash his head in with a wrench but he doesn’t. Hobbs manages to take in Vince, Brian, Dom and Mia. But he hasn’t caught the rest of the team.
On the way to the station, Hobbs is attacked by Reyes’ men. The rookie officer decides to cut Mia, Dom, Vince and Brian loose so they have a chance of surviving. Most of Hobbs’ men are killed and just when it seems Hobbs is about to die, our heroes save him.
Vince has been shot and he tells Dom he has to meet Vince’s son Nico. Nico is named after Dominic. Vince’s death is pretty personal for Toretto since this is a guy he’s known since they were little kids. Dom is determined to finish the job. Most of the team doesn’t want to but Hobbs says he’ll go with Dom, at least until Reyes is dead. After that, the rest of the team agrees to go along with the original plan.
The remainder of the movie is big stunts, fast action, and pure fun. Hobbs drives a truck through the police station walls so Brian and Dom can tow a huge vault along the streets of Rio. We’re beyond caring about the physics of things in these movies now but it looks great.
You can probably imagine the ending here. Dom’s team ends up with the money. Hobbs gives Dom 24 hours to get away which is plenty of time for him. Brian and Mia end up on a beach in a place where we can assume there is no extradition, with Mia showing her pregnancy. Han and Giselle end up together, Roman and Tej stay friends and rivals, and Dom goes to visit Brian and Mia. We end the movie with Brian essentially challenging Dom to a final race, driver to driver, no tricks, no cheating. We don’t see that in this movie though.
A lot of the movies in this franchise are hit or miss but this one ends up being too much fun not to like. This takes us from a repetitive series of races to something else. While there are still quiet, and important, character moments, the real spectacle of these films starts to shine here. The stunts are huuuge and impressive. The car racing is fantastic and this film gives the whole series some much needed new direction. And adding a good foil in The Rock really helps as well.
In the end this one gives a lot of the vibes of the first one. It’s basically a good time at the theater and I can’t really find fault with that.
If you haven’t seen this one in a while, it’s totally worth a rewatch.
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