The first four films in the Fast and Furious franchise had been fairly successful with both audiences and critics. Consistent box-office takings and an established audience led to it becoming one of cinema's most popular franchises, yet it never quite gained gigantic and crossover success like cinema's best series'.
Enter The Rock.
The Rock was introduced to the Fast and Furious franchise on a bit of a low, after the financial disappointment of Faster and his critically mauled kids movies. But despite his various shortcomings in the movie world, he had been one of the most recognisable and popular men on the planet for the best part of 10 years and the millions of fans he accumulated from his days in WWE were still waiting for his first huge movie hit. And that's exactly what 'Fast Five' was. The Rock, or to call him by his birth name, Dwayne Johnson injected charisma, brawn and a dominating screen presence into the flailing franchise. From the second he storms on screen, all hulking sweat in a shirt that is four sizes too small, you know this is going to be a Fast and Furious film unlike any other.
Johnson makes the franchise feel fresh and reborn, despite the series being four movies deep before he even stepped on screen. For the first time in the series, Vin Diesel has a worthy adversary and their showdown is the all-time high point of the series as their fight is brutal, punishing and full of emotion, just like all great fight scenes should be. Johnson's appearance in the film led to the biggest box-office takings for the series so far and a substantial amount of crossover appeal as the franchise has since become as synonymous as some of its contemporaries.
'Fast Five' is essentially typified by what The Rock brought to the movie. It's bigger, crazier and logic defying in every way imaginable, but much like Johnson's towering performance, it is a ludicrous amount of fun. Very rarely do movie franchise's improve upon their fifth entry, let alone deliver by far the finest film in the series so far, but not every franchise has The Rock in it. Since Fast Five, it wasn't just the movie franchise that profited, The Rock too, has gone on to become bigger than ever. Two record breaking appearances at Wrestlemania and a string of hugely successful movies later and The Rock has emerged as one of the most popular and successful men in the world.
Because of the colossal success of 'Fast Five', The Rock was retained for 'Fast and Furious 6', which is due for release in May. The studio see Johnson's appeal as being massive, particularly after his return to WWE, where many of his fans over there would go and see the film purely because his face is on the poster. Before 'Fast Five', the series was trudging along evenly, and being successful whilst doing it, but the addition of Johnson has pushed the series to a whole new level; and one thing's for certain, the Fast and Furious universe is incredibly more fun with The Rock involved.