This opens with a bang and picks up speed from there. The opening is so mind-boggling it drew gasps and applause from my screening of film critics, most of whom have seen just about everything there is to see in movies.
Right away, if the stunts and special effects don’t grab you, the music (Brian Tyler, with Oscar®-quality work), highlighted by Reggaeton stars Don Omar and Tego Calderón (actors in the film who also contributed two songs), can’t help but get you in the mood. The film is loaded to the gills with high octane music to keep up with the constant action onscreen.
Dwayne Johnson joins a reunion of cast members from every chapter of the franchise, headed by Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. This builds up to a mano a mano fight between Diesel and Johnson, a difficult feat for the filmmakers since they are both Hollywood superheroes.
Spectacular cinematography (Stephen Windon) of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, as well as its pristine beaches, Sugarloaf Mountain, Copacabana Fort, Ipanema Beach, the Dona Marta lookout point and Christ the Redeemer statue, highlight the story in which former cop Brian O’Conner (Walker) hooks up with ex-con Dom Toretto (Diesel) as apparent criminals. The small hillside Puerto Rican town of Naranjito doubled for Rio for many of the chase scenes that permeate the film.
Along with others from prior episodes, Jordana Brewster, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Matt Schulze, Calderón and Omar, they team up to pull a heist of $100 million from Rio crime king Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida). Pursuing them is good-guy cop Johnson.
The script is appropriately camp. Johnson has some lines that brought titters from the audience, but he delivered them all with a straight face, getting the comedic idea across. Generally in an action film the quality of the acting is less than wonderful. But here, between the chases and crashes, the acting is surprisingly effective. Diesel, Walker and the rest comport themselves very well.
While the crashes and special effects are wondrous, unfortunately the final chase is far too long, although it is interesting to watch for awhile. There are just too many duplicative scenes of destruction and it gets tiresome. But the too long dénouement does not substantially detract from a highly enjoyable film.
Chicks might love this movie; guys not. The first hour would fit any normal man’s legal definition of torture. The only reason I remained in my seat was that I had walked out of a screening of Thor after the first 15 minutes and anything would look good compared to that monstrosity. After an hour, however, when Ethan (John Krasinski), the Tony Randall role, got more attention, there were actually some laugh-out-loud scenes.
Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Darcy (Kate Hudson) are BFF’s, and as chick-flicky as they could possibly be. Darcy is engaged to marry Dex (Colin Egglesfield) and Rachel has long carried the torch for Dex; in fact, she introduced Darcy to Dex. Neither Rachel nor Dex has the courage to speak up for their feelings. So Darcy filled the void and grabbed him and has no clue of how Rachel and Dex feel about each other. The entire movie is getting them to confront their feelings and deal with Darcy, who is aggressive and domineering. Derivative and predictable come flooding to the mind.
The problems with all these chick flicks are twofold. In the first place, they are generally written by chicks (here it’s Jenny Snyder Urman from a novel by another chick, Emily Giffin), and the chicks that write them don’t have a clue about how normal men act, think or speak. That’s true here. The men, you should pardon the expression, are either girly men, like Dex, or sexless, like Ethan, or unbearably gross and crude, like Marcus (Steve Howey), who is clumsily trying to bed Rachel.
The second problem is the dialogue, mainly between and among the women. I hope that this isn’t the way real women speak and act with each other, because all those scenes are enough to send any man running out of the theater, screaming.
Despite the script, however, the acting in this is very good, especially Krasinski and Goodwin.