Grae's currently on vacation in an exotic land until the end of April. Subbing for her is fellow MDC writer Alonso Duralde. Follow him on Twitter at @ADuralde.
Who's In It: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Dwayne Johnson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, Joaquin de Almeida
The Basics: Dom Toretto (Diesel) is sent to prison for whatever it was that he did in the last movie, so his pal Brian (Walker) and sister Mia (Brewster) stage an elaborate jailbreak that involves the bus that was carting Dom to prison. The three fugitives wind up in Rio de Janeiro where they participate in a car heist from a moving train that makes them the target of both Brazilian crime lord Reyes (de Almeida) and the FBI, who sends Agent Hobbs (Johnson) to lead a team to bring the trio into custody. Our heroes' solution to all this? Stage one last job -- and in case we missed that, Dom actually calls it "one last job" -- taking Reyes' money out of a heavily-guarded police station with the help of characters from previous installments of the Fast and the Furious saga.
What's The Deal: Fast Five isn't just a popcorn movie -- this is popcorn that's been slathered in the most unhealthy, artificial "golden topping" imaginable, with some M&M's and Sno-Caps thrown in for good measure. But if you're in the mood for the cinematic equivalent of sugar and trans fats, the film delivers with one physics-defying set piece after another. Director Justin Lin -- whose Tokyo Drift is considered by many to be the pinnacle of this franchise -- is smart enough to know that these movies are all about the vroom-vroom and not the talk-talk. (He gives us one too many helicopter shots zooming over the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer, but few foreign directors shooting in Rio can resist that one.) So don't be surprised if you laugh at the few moments when Fast Five tries to create dramatic tension, and just bide your time until the next jaw-dropping automotive escapade.
Starring The Dodge Charger: There are scenes where Diesel and Walker are "acting" -- if the very definition of that word isn't stretched beyond recognition with the mumbling and monotone going on here -- that just confirms that the success of this series is all about the cars. Are there two worse actors in American cinema today? I mean, seriously: Larry the Cable Guy and Rob Schneider could out-emote these two yo-yos without breaking a sweat.
Keep Your Seats: Sit through the credits for one final scene that sets up the inevitable sixth movie. And truth be told, it's got me anticipating the next F&F movie for the first time ever.
Why The Rio Tourism Board Won't Be Using Fast Five In The Promo Materials: The film portrays the entire city's police force (save for one rookie cop) as being on the take. The characters also spend a lot of time in the city's notorious slums.