Fast And Furious 5 Review: Pimp My Ride

On General Release Thursday 21st April

10 years on from the original Fast And The Furious which was every petrol head’s wet dream (half-naked chicks for the boys; meathead Vin Diesel and blue-eyed Paul Walker for the ladies; fast cars tearing up more tarmac than an M25 maintenance crew for everyone), the fifth instalment rolls on to our screens. It’s a ludicrous blend of improbable action sequences and paper thin plot but makes for one hell of a ride.

The plot (as far as there is one) sees ex-cop turned car thief Brian (Paul Walker) and his girlfriend Mia (Jordana Brewster) breaking her brother Dominic (perennial no-neck Vin Diesel) out of prison. Suitably tooled up with a fleet of fast cars, they flee to Rio where they’re given the opportunity to go for One Last Score ™ – the theft of $100 million dollars from Brazil’s most formidable gangster, before vanishing forever. Hot on their trail is a no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners, gung-ho, muscle-bound, trigger-happy FBI agent in the shape of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – determined to bring the gang in at any cost.

But plot is the least of your concerns if you’ve come to see a Fast And Furious movie – what you want is action and cars, and that the film delivers in spades. The set pieces are suitably ridiculous but relentlessly exciting – an early segment which sees Walker jumping from a wrecked train to a convertible car before plunging off a bridge is an absolute triumph – “sensible” having been left choking on dust a few miles back. Similarly a chase which features Walker and Diesel towing a 10 foot bank vault down a main street, using it as a gigantic morning star to smash aside pursuing cars and buildings alike is gloriously good fun.

The acting is as you’d expect – cheesy one-liners are ten-a-penny, Vin Diesel grunts most of his lines like he’s a shaved gorilla and Paul Walker’s mannequin impression has got even better. Star of the show is The Rock, curiously drenched in sweat when everyone else is bone dry, strutting around like a human wall and spitting lines with visible spite, it’s good to see him put aside family comedies like The Tooth Fairy and the limp action of Faster and star in movie which is the perfect vehicle for his talents. His inevitable fight with Vin Diesel – meathead-e-meathead – is as brutal as you could wish for and destroys more walls and windows that an Extreme Makeover marathon.

It’s just a shame that these incredible set-pieces (director Justin Lin certainly has an eye for action) are broken up by unnecessary filler. After the film’s thrilling first half an hour, there are some crushingly boring segments in between. The trio of Walker, Diesel and Brewster works really well, so when the rest of the crew turn up, there’s wasted time getting to know the new arrivals.

Add to this the planning of the heist which goes on for far too long, some protracted nonsense about father figures and the expected grudging bromance between The Rock and Vin and you’ve got a film which feels bloated when it should be as streamlined as a Ford GT40.

It’s a film which does exactly what it says on the tin – chop 30 minutes off of its excessive 2 hour 10 running time and you’d have a supercharged action film; as it stands, it struggles to maintain top gear.

Follow Jez Sands on Twitter.