If the law of diminishing returns of sequels holds true then Fast & Furious 5 should be running on exhaust fumes and destined to fail a script MOT.
Instead, the turbo-charged fifth chapter of the franchise, and the third successive film directed by Justin Lin, soups up the usual high-octane kit and caboodle with an Ocean’s Eleven-style heist and some of the best action sequences to date.
Screenwriter Chris Morgan tosses logic out of the window to make way for turbo-injected stunts including an outrageous sequence of two cars towing a bank vault at high speed through the streets of Rio de Janeiro, the safe careening off the road and razing entire city blocks every time the lead cars turn sharply.
Lin delivers slam bang thrills including a theft from a moving train and a bruising fist fight between the two beefiest members of cast.
A chase across the corrugated iron roofs of the favela draws comparisons with the opening sequence of The Hulk and the Bourne films, and there is another nod to the latter franchise with an explosive ambush and gun fight.
Of course it’s too much to expect Morgan’s dialogue and plotting to be similarly robust, but moments of unintentional hilarity are seldom and the new characters pump up the action when required.
Former cop Detective Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and lover Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) spring her brother Dominic (Vin Diesel) from a prison bus then criss-cross borders, eventually hiding out in Rio with Dom’s childhood friend, Vince (Matt Schulze).
The fugitives are double-crossed by drug lord Reyes (Joaquim De Almeida) and they vow revenge by plotting to steal 100 million dollars of the corrupt businessman’s ill-gotten gains.
Dom and Brian recruit a top-notch crew of familiar faces for the heist.
A coda, secreted halfway through the end credits, revs the engine on a potential Fast & Furious 6. There’s definitely more left in the tank.