For a movie that’s theoretically all about car racing, Fast Five features disappointingly little in the way of exciting chases and automotive stunts. As he did in the series’ previous installment, 2009’s Fast and Furious, director Justin Lin starts off with an impressive sequence pitting cars against a much larger vehicle (in this case it’s a train). But after we’re reintroduced to car-racing fugitives Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster), the movie heads into the garage for almost the entirety of its sluggish middle section, which turns into a second-rate Ocean’s Eleven-style heist movie.
Hiding out in Rio de Janeiro, Dom and Brian recruit an assortment of characters from all four previous Fast & Furious movies to help them pull off a high-profile robbery against the city’s biggest crime boss. Franchise fans will probably have fun seeing Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Sung Kang, among others, pop up again, but the crew is so large that most of the secondary characters barely get a handful of lines.
There’s also a dogged U.S. federal agent (Dwayne Johnson) hell-bent on tracking the crew down, and the various factions try to outmaneuver each other in a fairly tired fashion. The only thing more tedious is the bonding among Dom, Brian and Mia, featuring Diesel and Walker’s twin powers of non-emoting. Finally, at the movie’s climax, Lin stages another impressive set piece, involving a massive bank vault being dragged through the streets of Rio, but it’s a long, slow road getting there, and not really worth the trip.