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After Brian (Paul Walker) and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) break Dom (Vin Diesel) out of custody in a spectacularly dangerous highway snatch, they target a train carrying three special cars. When things don't go to plan, they make a run for it and are holed up in in Rio. They assemble a team of specialists made up of their family of friends to take the $100 million in cash held in various safe houses by Rio's security-conscious criminal overlord, Reyes (Joaquim De Almeida). It's their last big bid for enough money to walk away free, with new lives. But hard-nosed federal agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is assigned to track them down with his strike team. And Reyes sends his stormtroopers after the team when he discovers they stole vital information about his cash on a computer chip.

Review by Louise Keller:
They've really upped the ante in this fifth in the franchise, delivering enough sizzle to satisfy and surprise. There's everything we expect like the seriously fast driving, jaw-dropping action, some unexpected twists and an audacious central heist with an extraordinary climactic sequence about which I am still shaking my head. And if you think Vin Diesel is buff, wait until you see The Rock, who looks as though he could eat Vin for breakfast.

Superbly directed by Justin Lin, who also directed the last two films, the filmmakers have kept true to the essence of the characters and the boyish sense of fun they have always shared. When all the mega-buck stunts are stripped away, it's still about family, the camaraderie and competitive spirit between Vin Diesel's ex-crim Dom and Paul Walker's ex-cop Brian.

It doesn't happen too often these days that the main action sequence elicits a hearty round of applause, but this was the case at a packed preview screening. Yes, it was predominantly a male audience as you would expect and the row next to me was filled with buff guys who could be slotted quite nicely as extras in the film. Impressively, the script delivers and screen writers Chris Morgan and Gary Scott Thompson start the proceedings as we expect with a splashy early sequence involving fast cars, a speeding train and a bridge.

Lim uses the Rio setting to great advantage with sensational aerial shots and a constant sense of motion as chases over rooftops lead us to the main event, an Ocean's 11 style heist involving drug lord Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), whose paper trail comprises only bank notes. There is great anticipation as the team is assembled - for this one last job - and of course, their tasks are wonderfully impossible. My favourite is the mission to get Reyes' handprint for access to the massive safe that is safeguarding $100 million in cash; it involves a leggy beauty in a bikini.

It's a stroke of inspiration to have Dwayne Johnson as the head of the elite task force and the girls (Gal Gadot, Elsa Pataky and Jordana Brewster) are good, too. Paul Walker, with his sense of decency and clean good looks may not have quite enough to do as far as his fans are concerned, but he and Diesel give the film its legs and credence. This is seriously fast and furious action that doesn't rely on CGI but gets us to brace on the edge of our seats, enjoying the tension, the thrills and the very fast ride.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The turbo-charged franchise that elevates street racing to sometimes deadly gladiatorial heights is back with a big cinematic V8 version largely set in Rio. But before we get there, we go for a bumpy ride along a stretch of highway where Brian (Paul Walker) and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) - Dom's sister - manage the first of many impossible stunts, hijacking a busload of prisoners including Dom (Vin Diesel) so that only Dom escapes - and no-one is hurt.

While we have our credibility suspended, we may as well leave it there up in the cinema ceiling somewhere as we don't need it for the rest of the film. This is the modest price to pay for a fast film in which actions speaker louder than words - literally. And more often.

There are some adrenalin pumping chase sequences in Rio's favelas, before we get to the main game: the planning for the $100 million heist. Naturally, Rio's corrupt and brutal businessman Reyes (Joaquim De Almeida) is the target, so no need to feel guilt about it.

Vin Diesel is the star of the film with the most screentime, as Paul Walker takes a lower profile; but he has his love interest Mia (Jordana Brewster), to keep him occupied. He is nevertheless an effective partner for both and Brewster does a great job with her character, remaining feminine but feisty.

Dwayne Johnson chews the scenery, as they say, as the 'Old Testament' type of lawman, all beef and punchy dialogue. He gets a few laughs, as do a few others, both for content and for delivery.

The major climactic sequence is expensive in vehicle and property loss, with a major stunt that again defies credibility but by now we're happily escaping to the kind of place the characters wish to live out their lives - if they ever get the money and stay free.

So don't miss the beginning - and stay for the credits for a punchy coda.
First published in the Sun-Herald

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Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

(US, 2011)

CAST: Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Elsa Pataky, Tyrese Gibson

PRODUCER: Vin Diesel, Michael Fottrell, Neal H. Moritz

DIRECTOR: Justin Lin

SCRIPT: Chris Morgan


EDITOR: Kelly Matsumoto, Fred Raskin, Christian Wagner

MUSIC: Brian Tyler


RUNNING TIME: 130 minutes



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