Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA, 2011. Universal Pictures, Original Film, One Race Productions, Dentsu. Screenplay by Chris Morgan, based on characters created by Gary Scott Thompson. Cinematography by Stephen F. Windon. Produced by Vin Diesel, Michael Fottrell, Neal H. Moritz. Music by Brian Tyler. Production Design by Peter Wenham. Costume Design by Sanja Milkovic Hays. Film Editing by Kelly Matsumoto, Fred Raskin, Christian Wagner.
With the heartfelt (not really) reunion out of the way in the last one, it’s time to enjoy the rush with this action packed if dimwitted fourth sequel. After an amazing prison break in the pre-credits sequence, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker head to Brazil to hide out in Rio De Janeiro before the old life pulls them back into old habits: freedom is possible but it requires (you guessed it) pulling off one last job. The team plans to steal a lot of money from a revered but corrupt business tycoon (Joaquim de Almeida), but to do it our heroes have to assemble an assortment of drivers from previous films to help out. Not making things easy is the appearance of the federal agent (Dwayne Johnson in a surprisingly dull performance) who intends to get these guys no matter what it takes. For a movie with a tropical setting that is full of fast cars and gorgeous young bodies, it’s amazing how determined it seems to never crack a smile: Diesel has never been able to convince anyone that he was having a good time, it’s the main reason he hasn’t achieved the kind of stardom that Stallone and Schwarzenegger enjoyed before him, and the late Walker is the least relaxed on screen personality there ever was (if Paul Newman had a son he criticized too much, this is him). The lack of both fun and cool makes this film, which isn’t supposed to be much more than silly escapism, impossible to enjoy on its own merits. Great stunt work, and unlike the last one’s heavy emphasis on computer graphics, here everything at least looks convincing (provided you ignore your knowledge of physics).