More than a few film franchises seem like a trip to the drive-up burger joints: the payoff is predictable, not always very nourishing, but the experience can be fun, and you won’t leave hungry.
That recipe worked perfectly for The Fast and the Furious in 2001. The film didn’t promise steak, just a lot of sizzle, which clearly satisfied a broad segment of moviegoers. This motorized morality play (of a sort) mixes brooding, inarticulate characters tied to a supremely implausible story sprinkled with lots of attractive women and fast cars.
This menu spawned a series of films that grossed nearly a billion dollars worldwide. So, of course, Fast Five just opened. It expects to do large business because it does not stray far from the basic formula. […]