Who's In It: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Matt Schulze, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Joaquim de Almeida
The Basics: Now that the entire cast of sexy car stealers are fugitives from justice, they head down to Brazil. And even though they're capable of rigging up a car robbery while aboard a moving train and can hack into the security systems of South American crime bosses, they haven't yet figured out how to simply get themselves to a non-extradition country. But that's not important just yet. They've got one last job to pull off, at which point they'll have millions of thousands of dollars and can disappear to a private beach somewhere, enjoy drinking stuff through straws stuck into coconuts and wait for their agents to call with deals for the next sequel.
What's The Deal: Much like the Harry Potter movies, this franchise improves (sort of) with age. But unlike the Potter movies, where the strategy has been to go deeper and darker and smarter, this series finally decided to stop hitting and missing and taking itself so dang seriously and, instead, dove head first into a cool bottomless pool of stupidity. For the record, that's as valid a direction to go as any, especially now that they've gotten so good at keeping the action as awesome as the dialogue is dumb. It's a Law of Cinema that there must be one car crash or explosion keeping pace with every Vin Diesel grunt or Paul Walker blank stare, and this fifth lap around the track more than delivers. If Hollywood can make the rest of the summer as brainlessly fun as this then maybe people will start going back to the multiplex.
When To Get More Popcorn: After a really strong, front-loaded-with-action first third, the heist plot kicks into gear and there are moments that turn hazy. This is because people like Diesel and The Rock start talking to each other. And while there is enjoyment to be found in wondering how angrily, snarlingly close to each other's face they can get without making out, you didn't come to this movie to see some actor have a conversation. Fortunately, the final third goes vroom with extreme loudness and mayhem and you forget that you got bored there for a minute. And stay through the credits. That's all I'll say about it here. Just stay put.
Sometimes It's Good To Learn The Director's Name: That would be Justin Lin. He's responsible for the last one, the mostly boring Fast & Furious, as well as my personal favorite installment, the effortlessly cool Tokyo Drift. Do yourself a favor and check out his earlier, non-car-themed movies, Better Luck Tomorrow and the crazy indie Shopping for Fangs.
Best Enjoyed: 1) After having seen the others in the series first. 2) With a rowdy audience. 3) Half-drunk, provided you're 21 and have secured a designated driver.