Fast Five

Fast Five ★★★½

Fast & Furious: ACAB

It's crazy to think that a film franchise could find its formula in the fifth entry, but here we are. This is the best Fast & Furious movie, hands down. It even has the balls to skip the perfunctory race sequence - we see the setup, we see the stakes, and then bam, we cut to our heroes bringing the newly won car home. It's THAT confident in the rest of the action throughout this thriller extravaganza.

It knows that this is now a top tier action franchise that merely uses cars as a language, highway hijinks as a palette, punching as punctuation. These movies now supplant the James Bond and Mission Impossible franchises while also being far more diverse - from the very beginning - than the MCU even after two dozen films under its banner. They're as overblown and stupid as anything Disney drops, but they have a self awareness and "dgaf" sense of fun that Disney seems mostly incapable of.

And their current framework - a bulging crew of Family comes together to achieve the impossible, somehow with cars, facing a new antagonist who's so fun they'll eventually become part of the Family in a future installment - began right here. This is the blueprint. Even more than that, it's the perfect balance between all the ingredients that make these movies tick. Later ones will get even wilder, more superhero-like, stakes as high as can be, but they have yet to provide the raw thrill and truly earned sense of fun on display here. I couldn't call it remotely grounded with a straight face, but in the context of its sequels, I'm doing exactly that.

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