You’ve got to give the “Fast & Furious” movies this much credit, at least: They’re certainly self-aware about what they are and what the people want. In lesser hands and in a very different franchise, that precise combination could spell disaster. Instead, that certain alchemy helped boost the adventures of Dominic Toretto and Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) to incredible heights. While diehard fans can defend the merits of each and every film, there’s a case to be made that “Fast Five” was the first time that this series perfected its formula for success.
Directed by “F&F” stalwart Justin Lin and written by Chris Morgan, 2011’s “Fast Five” became the first of the series to introduce genre elements beyond just car racing — this time, our fambly would take part in a heist movie. Taking its cues from “The Italian Job” rather than riffing on “Point Break,” the fifth film made the same inspired choice that benefited plenty of superhero movies before it. Essentially, the sequel not only marked the moment where it all truly became about family, but it also proved that this franchise could aim its sights even higher. And, as we all know, no heist movie is complete without a prize worth robbing.
Much of “Fast Five” plays out hilariously similar to classics like “Ocean’s Eleven,” from “getting the team together” montages to undercover jobs scouting out the target, to practice runs emphasizing the long odds of success. After painstakingly setting up the mission parameters for half the movie, when it finally comes time to pull off their scheme … the script instead pulls the rug out from under us, literally blows it all up, and devolves into two Dodge Chargers dragging a vault across Rio de Janeiro.
And it’s awesome.