The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
The Fast and the Furious film series is great fun and should be admired, why? Well its not trying to pretend its something it isn't. The film is about great looking, fast and noisy cars, great looking women and lot's of testosterone. Let's not forget it's just about the cars and the racing, and unlike other films that are about such a simple and small concept, this one embraces that warmly and makes it the heart of the film.
As you can tell I'm a guy and I love fast cars, but I have to think of this as a standard member of the audience, not a petrol head. So, is the film actually any good?
Many thanks to the Edinburgh Ocean Terminal Vue Cinema for helping me with this review, the sound was superb for this film and the hot dog was stunningly good!
Just as the film embraces what it is all about and focuses on that, the audience should do just that with the movie. The film is about action and entertainment, it isn't some high level drama or thriller, although it is about the thrill.
Now, once you know that and realise that you're going to see some entertainment, then you can live happy with the fact that this film delivers just that, and with a lot of noise to boot.
Straight into the film you see that there's going to be a sharp visual style and a really strong soundtrack, and both are maintained throughout the film. After all the film is about young adults with fantastic cars crammed with huge engines, nitro systems and huge speakers, so the match is well done.
A good thing about this film is that there's a great balance between the cars and the story, sure the plot isn't any 24 or Lost, but with the cars and the action threatening to steal the show the story fights back and keeps equal footing.
There are a number of points in the story that the plot feels quite contrived or you notice the stock situations pulled out (for example the dysfunctional father-son relationship), but it's not off putting, yes it doesn't make it a great character or dialogue based film, but as I've said that's not the point. It is still a good story and has some dramatic elements to it which keep the tension building and the characters moving.
The acting surprised me, Lucas Black is very good and gives a good performance, which is more than could be said for his stunning co-star Nathalie Kelley, she delivers lines in an overly conscious manner to begin with, and although she does get better as the movie continues, she's never particularly strong. The Japanese cast are chosen well and they played their parts with style, Brian Tee was an excellent baddie, although his Yakuza uncle seemed somewhat miscast and uncomfortable.
The ending is perfect for the film, rounding the story off nicely, then there's a little surprise in store for us all as the film continues past its obvious conclusion. The ending was perfect and it did make me smile quite a bit, almost as much as I smiled whenever there was a cool looking car onscreen, or a stunning race sequence.
Those race sequences are what make this movie. There are some wonderful moments, particularly the drifting through the car park and down the mountain side, but none of these beat the sheer adrenaline rush from the street race scene and the spectacular crashes. These sequences are superbly choreographed, visualised and filmed, giving a really strong feeling of speed as well as managing to build the tension.
I often find that car sequences, like fight scenes, are nowadays far too edited and close cropped to follow the action. During a high speed chase with lots going on you'll often find yourself struggling to keep up with what's just happened. This is not the case with Tokyo Drift, you are sitting right there in the midst of the action and following every corner.
I have to say that I think this is a better drift racing film than Initial D (review). Justin Lin does a very good job with the action, building tension, and delivering a couple of surprising moments on screen. He also manages to bring across Japanese life and culture surprisingly well without it being lost in Hollywood.
After seeing this movie there's no doubt in my mind that Vin Diesel will want to return for another film, and can. There's also no doubt that I'll want to see it. However there is a big disappointment for me…there was no Honda S2000 this time.
Overall it delivers what it says on the poster, entertainment, fast cars, great action, and a few smiles. I enjoyed it, but then I do like fast cars.
Here's a little feature I'm going to start doing on cinema reviews, which trailers were shown and what, if anything, they made me think of the film.
Stormbreaker - This was a new trailer and looked better than the last as it featured more continuity, and longer scenes from some of the big name cast. Despite what you might think, this is looking pretty good.
Cars - This is a newer trailer than I'd seen before and it reflects what I've heard about the film being a collection of scenes of car jokes. Watching this one really made me feel that this is pure Doc Hollywood.
Superman Returns - I've heard a few people say that they are bored of seeing and hearing about this movie and just want it to be released. This trailer gives me that very feeling. It didn't have the same effect as the first few trailers and clips, even with that music blaring. It also looked a little over polished on some of the CGI shots, something I started thinking since seeing the Photoshop heavy poster outside the screen.
Miami Vice - Again another different cut of the trailer and this one is much stronger than the previous. Despite the negative early reviews and remembering that trailers can be cut any number of ways, this trailer made the film look edgy, gritty and something worth watching.
Snakes on a Plane - This was the trailer I featured last month when it appeared on You Tube. The trailer with the titles telling you what you'll get from other films this year, then hitting you with the fact that they won't give you snakes on a plane. Then there's some fast cuts of snakes...nice joking title sequence, but I still think this looks awful.