I feel like I've spent an uncommon amount of time with Dwayne Johnson this year, even for people who play the publicity game, but that may just be a sign that Johnson's career has finally kicked into overdrive.  I saw him in Hawaii last month, and then about six weeks before that, I visited him in Atlanta, where he was finishing up production on "Fast Five," the newest entry in the "Fast and the Furious" franchise.

Johnson is, of course, the newest cast member to join the ever-expanding ensemble that makes up the ongoing "Fast" crew.  I'm fascinated by the way Universal took this sort of underdog little first film, a movie that no one expected anything from, and is now finishing up on this, the fifth film, with no signs of slowing down.  I'm also impressed by the way Justin Lin has become the David Yates of this series, coming in late and then pretty much taking the series over.  He made "Tokyo Drift," then "Fast and Furious," and now he's the man who is bringing Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel together for what could easily be the largest scale of the films so far.

Set primarily in Rio this time, the story focuses on an international team headed by Johnson tasked with tracking down and capturing the team led by Paul Walker and Vin Diesel, as well as many other returning cast members from all four of the previous films.  Loyalties will shift, truths will be revealed, very large men will most likely beat hell out of each other, and, in the words of Johnson…

"And above all else, you don't ever ever let them get into cars."

I'm not even a massive fan of the earlier films, and I can see why this one looks appealing.  I think it's impressive that most of the favela footage you see there is Puerto Rico and not Rio.  Looks like they've made a big sprawling visually exciting action ride, and I honestly think seeing Vin and Dwayne go head to head is reason enough for this one to be on my list of things to look forward to in 2011.  There's a hint in this trailer of one of the biggest scenes in the film involving the theft of a safe and a car chase, and stuff like that is the reason this series just keeps picking up speed as it goes.


Make sure you check out the gallery of new images from the film that we also published today, and you can expect to see a report on our time on-set sometime between now and the release of the film.

"Fast Five" will be in theaters April 29, 2011.

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