Monday, June 12, 2006
MovieWatch: "3 Fast 3 Furious"
"The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift"
Director: Justin Lin
Fien Print Rating (Out of 100): 50
In a Nutshell: As long as the films in this franchise stick to their titles and stay fast, furious and substance-free, they're capable of being entirely enjoyable B-movies. Unfortunately, despite the well-depicted new location, "Tokyo Drift" spends too much time slowing down and trying (without success) to develop characters, relying on a witless script that leaves almost no cliche unturned. For a director who once had solid indie film bona fides, Justin Lin (whose "Annapolis" is almost certain to make my list of the year's Ten Worst) can't seem to handle character and dialogue. While what happens in the middle frequently falls flat, the movie has two superior bookending sequences -- a regular drag race through an American housing development, and a drifting race down a mountain-side outside of Tokyo. Lin directs those scenes with the necessary intimacy and intensity and gooses the action with an unrelenting soundtrack of hip-hop tunes and Japanese pop songs. When he keeps his mouth closed and just flashes his smile, Lucas Black is a worthy successor to Paul Walker, though his thick Alabama accent is a liability whenever dialogue scenes come up because Lin can't work around it. I challenge anybody to tell me what Bow-Wow is doing in this movie, but "Tokyo Drift" gets cool points for the presence of Sonny Chiba as an old Yakuza. It's an odd movie, because it will deliver most of what fans expect, but in its awkward attempts to overreach, it loses momentum. It's a B-movie that thinks it's better than it is. The funny thing? That still makes it better than this weekend's other big new studio releases. Sigh.
Check Zap2it on Friday, June 16 for my full review.