The sequel that SHOULD have followed The Fast and the Furious.
Still finding ways to combine his two favorite pastimes, hijacking payloads and driving recklessly fast, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) breaks away from his girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) to keep her safe if the cops breathing down his neck come to call. Meanwhile, FBI agent Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) is closing in on capturing a notorious drug smuggler when his path again crosses with Dominic who has his own score to settle. Mutually keeping one another’s secret for their own purposes, both attempt to covertly infiltrate the drug dealer’s team of drivers while Dominic’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) is left to worry about them both.
Is it the cars? Is it the babes? Is it the interaction between Diesel and Walker’s characters? Whatever the secret formula is, a third sequel to the original film, The Fast and the Furious, really should have been the first sequel. It’s all in fun: cops, criminals, and cars. And with modern day special effects, you can get away with a lot that looks good without nearly killing your cast and stunt drivers. The plot isn’t too deep, but the film flows from one stunt sequence to the next with just enough time to watch Vin Diesel scowl in between.
Full disclosure: I like Vin Diesel. There are two kinds of actors in Hollywood, the ones that become their roles completely and the ones who look comfortable being themselves playing up to the camera. I’m not saying Vin can’t act, I’m just saying that there are elements of Diesel’s personality that lend themselves very well to characters like Dominic Toretto or Pitch Black’s Riddick. But while Riddick plays hard at being a killer loner, the character of Dominic plays better off of Walker’s O’Conner as a buddy both in doing crime and seeking justice. What would be interesting is to see what kind of audience Diesel and Walker would draw if their interaction were moved to another venue or genre.
The Tokyo Drift sequel succeeded because it didn’t aspire to be anything more than it was: entertainment. Hollywood seems to put these high-octane throwaway action adventures into one of two categories; either studios pour a hundred million plus dollars into it and give it a May release, or they quietly try to release the cheaper ones in April or October to much hype hoping and make a little more than they spent. But seriously, who else other than Vin Diesel and Jason Statham are making these kinds of films nowadays? Sharp editing, cool stunts, and cars going way too fast still make for a fun time at the movies.
(a three skull recommendation out of four)