The Great Owl’s review published on Letterboxd:
Dominic Toretto, a convicted truck hijacker played by Vin Diesel, his sister, Mia, played by Jordana Brewster, and his former nemesis, Brian O'Conner, an FBI agent-turned-criminal-accomplice played by Paul Walker, have fled south of the border to escape the authorities and are now taking refuge in Rio de Janeiro. In a last-ditch effort to earn their freedom, this tight-knit family assembles a team of fellow street racers for a daring heist to steal the cash supply of a ruthless Brazilian drug lord who rules over a corrupt police department. Unfortunately for our resourceful antiheroes, Luke Hobbs, a fiercely determined Federal agent played by Dwayne Johnson, is hot on the trail and eager to disrupt their goals in a violent fashion.
The 2011 action adventure sequel, Fast Five, the fifth installment of a blockbuster franchise kickstarted by The Fast and the Furious in 2001, is rightfully regarded by many to be the pinnacle of the Fast Saga in terms of storytelling, star power, and lightning-paced urgency. Like the race cars featured in its narrative, this one fires on all cylinders as it speeds from one dazzling set piece to another. Ridiculously implausible feats of skill, including the theft of high-priced vehicles from a speeding train and the use of souped-up cars to haul a bank vault through crowded Rio streets, come across in a surprisingly convincing fashion, thanks to the insistence of director Justin Lin, who helmed the previous two installments in the series, on creating elaborately storyboarded sequences instead of relying on jerky editing.
The return of old favorites from previous Fast Saga movies, including Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), Han (Sung Kang), Gisele (Gal Gadot), Leo (Tego Calderon), Santos (Don Omar), and even Vince (Matt Schulze), to join our three leads lends an endearingly lived-in Marvel superhero ethos to the equation, and one of the many joys of this endeavor is found in watching their witty interactions as they reunite with one another and pick up where they left off. Despite the focus on big budget rock ‘em sock ‘em scenes, the script makes room for a few emotionally resonant dialogue moments. I love one such exchange where Diesel's Toretto is telling stories about his father to Walker's O'Conner.
I have always enjoyed heist movies. There's an undeniable head rush to be found in watching characters make intricate plans and preparations for insanely perilous takedowns of highly secured and heavily guarded treasures. Fast Five, despite its reputation as just one of many sequels in a popcorn movie series, stands with the best of heist movies from cinema history, and has deservedly appeared on a few best-of lists since its theatrical release.
The Fast Saga would never quite be the same after Fast Five, for better or worse, but one cannot deny that this is the point in the series where all of the involved cast and crew put the pedal to the metal to create something truly special.