When’s it out?

Fast and Furious 5 is released on DVD and Blu-Ray on Monday, September 5th 2011.

Who’s in it?

Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris and Joaquim de Almeida.

What’s it about?

After breaking Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) out of prison before he’d even arrived there – at the end of the previous film – Fast and Furious 5 opens with Brian and Mia on the lam in Rio De Janeiro. When they fall foul of a corrupt independent businessman – who has some extremely durable ties to the upper echelons of the Brazilian police force – the trio are forced to briskly assemble a crack team (featuring at least one star from each of the previous Fast and Furious movies) to assist them with carrying out one of the most elaborate (and absurd) heists in cinematic history.

What’s it like?

It’s Fast and Furious crossed with the Wahlberg/Statham Italian Job remake. It’s smarter than the former, dumber than the latter, and easily twice as entertaining as both of them put together.

Star of the show?

Paul Walker still manages to be a surprisingly likeable screen presence despite apparently having been constructed entirely out of balsa, and Vin Diesel’s effortless charisma means that he could probably make these movies in his sleep. It’s also thrilling to see Dwayne Johnson back in action movie land again after that seemingly ceaseless barrage of iffy family fodder, but the true star of the show here is the film’s director Justin Lin. Every one of the action sequences are outstanding to be sure, but the film moves at such a relentless clip that a lesser director would have found it very easy to lose his audience’s interest at more than one juncture; and this doesn’t happen once. It’s plate-spinning to a degree, but primarily it’s just pure, unacclaimed craftsmanship.

Biggest surprise?

That it works so perfectly. If anyone was suspecting that shoehorning a heist movie onto the back-end of a Fast and Furious film was an act of creative desperation, think again. This is the most vibrant and unfussy series entry since the very first one and it almost seems as if this is the direction in which the film’s producers have always intended the franchise to go in. That’s rubbish of course, but if there isn’t a heist sequence at the end of Fast and Furious 6 – which is already in production, quelle surprise – we’ll eat a 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback in one sitting.

Best bit?

It’s the finale, absolutely without question. Despite muscular competition in the form of the film’s opening set-piece – which largely takes place on the side of a barrelling freight train – and an on-foot chase across the rooftops of the Rio favelas, the breathtaking climactic heist sequence truly has to be seen to be believed. You’ll laugh as often as you’ll gasp, and despite the utterly ludicrous nature of almost everything that happens during it, director Justin Lin never cuts any corners. There is hardly any green-screen, there is minimal CGI and the director never resorts to indulging in the heinous momentum-killer that is slow-mo. It is a classic action scene, pure and simple.

Verdict

A recent comment that was made by Vin Diesel and subsequently mocked by the press – he said that Fast and Furious 5 should warrant serious Oscar consideration – may be pushing it a little, but the sentiment is entirely justified. Expertly crafted, crowd-pleasing action movies like this don’t ever receive the level of critical kudos that they really deserve, despite the fact that action movies that are this engaging come along very, very rarely. It’s daft, light-headed and exceptionally goofy, but if there’s a better action movie released this year, we will be very surprised indeed.

Hit or miss?

A massive hit, and easily the best film in the series so far.

Fast and Furious 5 is released on DVD and Blu-Ray on Monday, September 5th 2011.

Watch the Fast and Furious 5 trailer here:

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