The first movie in this franchise came out in the days after 9/11 and provided welcome respite from unrelentingly grim TV news images. Its chirpy focus on high performance cars and the LA gangs who raced them, illegally, was welcome pap that provided vicarious thrills.
It offered great entertainment, gorgeous music and extraordinary car racing. Nothing deep or nasty lurked here and that was good. This franchise continues to do exactly what is says on the tin and continues to be enormous fun to watch.
Five movies on, we are in Rio, seeing the same streets and scenes used in the animated film “Rio”, but to very different effect.
Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster reprise their characters and they are on the run from the law, yet again. The police, led by Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs, are big, well-armed and also drive great cars.
Joaquim de Almeida plays a terrific drug lord bad guy and Matt Schulze plays Vince, our gang’s Rio-based relative.
There’s a plot about a heist involving fantastic car chases, which are every bit as iconic as the scenes from “Bullitt” and “The Italian Job”. Just this once, the word awesome is apropos. Heck, it’s mandatory.
Either you love these or you don’t. The music, visuals and stunts are all great. I can’t imagine Vin Diesel has many more years as an action hero, but he is very good indeed here. Don’t fret that he is probably too old for this and just a tad overweight. He is still utterly compelling on screen and carries the whole very nicely indeed.
If you hate cars, you’ll still like the rather original heist plot. Men and women will enjoy this.
Justin Lin’s tight direction moves the story forward and keeps a breathless pace throughout.
FF6 is being made and will be out next year. As I have seen each of these films in different countries, I can’t imagine where I will watch the next one. I got dragged to the first in the series by a friend and I have become a great fan of Diesel and of this series. They are a reliable joy in an age of uncertainty.
The Stratford Picturehouse was packed and the whole audience truly enjoyed it. See it on a big screen while you can.