I’ll break this down for you as for someone unfamiliar with the series to this point, as I had been. The film opens with Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto on a prisoner transport bus. Said bus is spectacularly blown up, allowing Toretto to escape. So right in the first five minutes, we have a) flipped an entire passenger bus and b) sustained no casualties despite the fact that zero of the passengers were wearing seatbelts. Credibility has already been tossed to the wind, so whatever’s coming up should be amazing.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we meet Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner, who is apparently former law enforcement. Dominic’s sister is O’Conner’s love interest. The two of them meet up with some friends to steal fancy cars off a train. We have shades of Firefly here (or do I just try to see them everywhere?) and some pretty cool gadgetry. They exchange some gunfire with the DEA (wait, why is the DEA involved?) and blah blah blah everyone eventually gets back to the safe house.
Shift gears (no pun intended): the gang discovers a chip hidden in one of the cars that reveals the location of all the safehouses owned by *the* drug lord of Brazil (DEA, gotcha). Since Dom’s sister and Brian are having a baby, the gang decides that the best baby shower is one funded by illegally-gotten drug money. Time to rob the safehouses!
Here we have a series of plot machinations that culminate in that car chase through downtown Rio. You don’t need to know how the gang ends up towing a bank vault with stolen cop cars while being chased by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Just go with it. Btw, they totally end up with the cash, obviously.
I’m not in a position to say how this movie fits in the F&F canon, nor whether it remained true to character and spirit. What I can say is that you need little knowledge of the other four films, the English language, or logic to enjoy this one. In fact, too much familiarity with either of those things might ruin the credibility of F5. (I did rent the initial movie to see if that helped; I was just confused by the hairstyles, additional characters, and Vin Diesel’s eerie agelessness.)