"The Fast and the Furious" franchise heads overseas in "Tokyo Drift," and, despite Justin Lin at the helm, the movie, like the others, is nothing more than glossy nothing. At least, unlike the others, this glossy nothing is slightly better than glossy garbage.
What the heck happened to Justin Lin? He had such a promising start with "Better Luck Tomorrow," an absolutely captivating and edgy thriller. Sure, "Tokyo Drift" has some cool cinematography, but first "Annapolis" and now this... what's the world coming to? So maybe it's a little too soon to rule Lin out of the game, but he needs another "Better Luck Tomorrow," and soon.
"Tokyo Drift" has a high school loser (Lucas Black) who loves to drag race. However, after one nasty and reckless accident, he is sent to Japan to live with his father. Sadly, he learns absolutely nothing from his mistake and quickly falls into a dangerous racing crowd in the city, who have a form of racing he has never seen before. Balancing on the line between power and control, the drivers can literally slide their cars as if they are on ice, but in a very natural and controllable way. Needless to say, he has to try it out, and needless to say, he destroys a very expensive car. That, in turn, puts him into debt with one of the local "gang" leaders, who turns him into his right hand man. Of course, he's also fallen in love with a girl at his high school (Amber Stevens), who just happens to be his arch rival's girlfriend (of course!).
That's the entire plot. Even though there's a mob element, the movie fails to make a story arch out of it. The plot is simple: show lots of flashy cars, have lots of racing scenes, and piece it all together with a story about two guys duking it out over a girl. For some people, that might be enough, and, compared to the last two "Fast and the Furious" movies, this one is at least tolerable.
Let me just get this straight: the first two "Furious" movies really sucked. How they became so popular is beyond me. And I had very low expectations for this third entry.
The race scenes here are pretty entertaining, and most look at least somewhat real. "Furious 3" is moderately entertaining, although at only 104 minutes it still seems longwinded.
If you need more than racing sequences to get you by, however, the screenplay is horrible and the character development non-existent. What is probably most frustrating for me is that this film holds complete disregard for the fact that it is glamorizing something so stupid. A kid gets in trouble, is sent around the world, and still doesn't learn anything. In fact, he ends up doing even dumber things.
"The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" has some cool cars and brutal racing sequences, but the movie is all gloss and nothing more. It is a slight improvement over the last two, but that's not saying much.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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