Fast Five (2011)

This fourth sequel to 2001’s “The Fast and the Furious” feels like a superior reboot in many ways. The returning cast has definitely found its groove by now, in particular leads Vin Diesel and Paul Walker whose chemistry is finally solid, and series newcomer Dwayne Johnson acclimatizes himself well to the proceedings from his first scene. Additionally, Justin Lin’s direction is rock solid this time around, with a number of high-octane car chase scenes that raise the ante on what’s come previously, and it’s exciting to see the series challenge itself to raise the stakes. The running time is definitely bloated, running at nearly a full 30 minutes longer than the previous entries, but it doesn’t really feel that long: The whole thing goes by at lightning speed, and while the soap opera drama that propels the narrative forward is a little on the basic side, the screenplay gives the characters surprisingly poignant moments that register more than one might expect. It’s not a masterpiece by any means, but it’s refining of the series formula and its cranked up stakes make the whole thing feel like a rejuvenation.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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