It's hard to see why they wanted to make a 4th film. While the first one made Vin Diesel a surprise star, his career has been on a downward spiral for a long time. Paul Walker has been doing better, but medium budget entertaining action films are his thing; he can't be a blockbuster guy. To top it all, the series itself has been in danger of being a direct-to-video style, meaningless, forgettable franchise.
What is hard to understand is why they would hire the guys who wrote and directed the Tokyo Drift
film to do this sequel as well. Of course, I'm not saying Rob Cohen would have been a better choice, but still. This isn't exactly pumping in fresh air into the franchise, is it? It's just the safest possible way of making a few bucks by putting big name faces on your trailer.
Justin Lin once again does what he does - he shoots his load way, way too early. The film opens with a bang - Dominic (Diesel) and Letty (Rodriguez) steal petroleum tankers in The Dominican Republic - and then slowly gets tepid, halting to a stop at the most bland finalÃ© this series has yet seen.
When something happens to Letty, Dominic ends up back in LA, where FBI agent O'Conner (Walker) is also investigating something related (surprise!). All roads lead to a drug dealer Braga, who also has a drug running street race squad, which both our guys team up to be a part of. I know, it's like they made a movie out of rejected Dhoom 3 ideas.
This is macho posturing and entertainment fluff, so I don't care if their plot is all crazy talk. The thing is, vacuous plots can be entertaining if at least the film is sincere. This film is not. They're not even trying to entertain us genuinely. This is a by-the-numbers movie that is meant to hit all tick marks within the specified time limit.
Justin Lin at least makes an attempt to dress this in humor that is making fun of its own over-the-top-ness. It's not enough, but it does include some nifty touches. And to give the cast some credit, they are good sports - trying hard to give some semblance of sense to the plot's big letter overtones. It's not their fault that the tone of the film and the shots is constantly kept in sync with the random macho nonsense the movie purports to unleash.
This is a film where creating the final action set-piece should be simplicity itself. Fast cars, a few crashes and explosions. Instead Lin chooses to shoot it hyper-real with CGI-laden car action in a damn tunnel. If the original film was a thrilling and entertaining guilty ride on a fast car, this one is you riding in your uncle's flashy new Maruti doing under 50 kmph.