Fast & Furious 5: Rio Heist review

Muscle cars. Hot women. Muscled men. Warm locations. Guns. Explosions. Races. Fury. Fast, er, fastness! Yes! You know what you’re getting with Fast and Furious film, right? Wrong. Everything you think you know about F&F? Forget it. Forget it all! Okay, not really. All of the above is still present if not exactly correct in this fifth instalment but now there’s something new, something hitherto unheard of in the franchise. What, what is it Justin? What on earth made you give this so many stars? Read, on dear reader, read on.

Those of you paying attention/still awake at the end of F&F4 will recall that Dom (Diesel) had been sentenced to life in prison “without the possibility of parole”, no less. However, sister Mia (Brewster) and friend and ex-cop Brian (Walker) were just about to bust him out of a prison bus. Against all expectations, this crazy plan works and the gang all end up in Rio because, you know, criminals on the run NEVER go there.

They’re out of cash so they agree to one last job(TM) which involves stealing cool cars from a moving train. It just so happens that one of these cars belongs to Reyes, the man who ‘owns’ Rio and it contains a chip which has ALL of the information about his dodgy dealings. With this, Dom decides that he must be stopped and sets about taking all his money from him. But to do this, he must a) get together a team and b) get into Reyes’ vault, which is heavily guarded. Sound familiar? Ocean’s Five? Fast and Furious Ocean’s?

Until this point, aside from the train heist which is pretty damn spectacular, it’s all so far, so what. But then something strange happens. First, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is introduced as Luke Hobbs a special agent who never misses a target. Then, with the team assembled, all the clichés are rolled out. There are gunfights and rooftop chases, cars get raced for no apparent reason and Hobbs’ choice of agent, Elena Neves (Pataky) says the immortal line, “Something big is going down.”

The dialogue is abominable and as with previous Fast and Furiousness, the attempts at serious drama are laughable but suddenly there’s a chuckle here and a glimmer of humour there, something entirely lacking from any of the previous films. Then before you know it, it’s clear. The team have realised just how preposterous this whole thing is, they're all playing up to it, and The Rock is sending himself up. The action somehow gets even more ridiculous, people start changing allegiance for no good reason and suddenly it’s a parody, everyone’s having fun and why the hell couldn’t all of the others have been this entertaining?!

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a great film by any stretch of your fevered imagination. But, after the reverence given to the humble motor vehicle in previous efforts and the pomposity of the scripts, this is a breath of fresh air. In fact, the very lack of car action and bold inclusion of a plot is probably why I liked it quite as much as I did. Sure it’s too long and too loud and utterly ludicrous – I cannot stress how literally unbelievable 99% of this is, especially the brilliantly over the top final act – but somehow, through sheer balls it manages to save itself and for that it should be applauded. Nothing like as bad as I feared and quite a lot of fun if you’re even remotely in the right mood, Furiously Fast 5 is quite probably the best film about cars and robbers and guns and that set in Rio out this week.

Official Site
Fast & Furious 5: Rio Heist at IMDb

Justin Bateman is a Screenjabber contributor

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