Fast Five ***1/2

(L to R) Dom Toretto (VIN DIESEL) and Brian O?Conner (PAUL WALKER) in a reunion of returning all-stars from every chapter of the explosive franchise built on speed--?Fast Five?.

“Fast Five” is one awesome movie.  It is strange to feel nostalgia while looking back on this series as a whole.  This is the fifth film in a franchise that started in 2001. Most series, “Harry Potter” aside, see their quality and box office decline by the fifth entry, but “Fast Five” has exploded out of the gate and is going to finish it’s run as the highest grossing film the franchise. 

“The Fast and the Furious” was a sleeper hit in 2001 starring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker.  The sequel, “2 Fast, 2 Furious” followed Paul Walker’s character and was a whole lot of fun.  “Tokyo Drift” was forgettable, but then came “Fast and Furious” in 2009, which was a pretty fun flick. 

Fast 5“Fast Five” is the first in the series to have this epic a scope.  The action sequences involve bigger stunts, street wide gun battles, and a chase through Rio De Janeiro that wreaks the most carnage that I have seen in recent memory.  It is the perfect summer thrill ride. 

So how do you up the stakes when its the fifth lap around?  Well start bringing in all the characters from the first four films.  This is like the “Ocean’s Eleven” of the series.  Returning faces include Tyrese Gibson, Matt Schulze, Jordana Brewster, Sung Kang and Ludacris. 

So who can you get to try and match up against everyone?  The Rock that is who.  I mean Dwayne Johnson, as he is called now.  Here he plays American law enforcement tasked with taking down Vin Diesel and the gang.  Yes there is a big fist fight showdown between Diesel and Johnson and yes it rocks.

So the stakes are high, which results in many sequences of vehicular mayhem, the first of which is when the crew steal Fast 5cars off of a moving train.  Then the gang steals a massive vault from the inside of a police station by chaining it to two vehicles and dragging it through the streets.  This thing crashes through everything in sight, pancaking cars, demolishing buildings and tearing up roads. 

I like this series a lot.  I like where it has gone.  First it was Walker and Diesel on opposite sides of the law.  Then they banded together and are on the run.  Taking the story out of the states and moving it to Brazil provides a fresh look and feel as well.  Director Justin Lin is becoming quite a master at these types of films.

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