Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 2006. Universal Pictures, Relativity Media, Original Film, MP Munich Pape Filmproductions. Screenplay by Chris Morgan. Cinematography by Stephen F. Windon. Produced by Neal H. Moritz. Music by Brian Tyler. Production Design by Ida Random. Costume Design by Sanja Milkovic Hayes. Film Editing by Kelly Matsumoto, Dallas Puett, Fred Raskin.
Lucas Black has gotten into trouble for the last time, a destructive drag race through an unfinished property development forcing him to leave the States and go live with his father in Tokyo (though I think in real life he would just go to jail?) Adjusting to life in a new country becomes easier when he makes friends with Shad Moss (then still known as Bow Wow) and their shared love of fast cars brings them into the city’s racing nightlife: the use of underground parking garages instead of wide open streets requires knowledge of Drifting, a stunt that involves clever manipulation of spinning the wheel for turning sharp corners. Black determines to learn the skill in order to face off with a bastard of a guy who is also dating the girl he is interested in. The plot is so dull as to be not only fully forgettable but lulls you into ignoring many of its holes (where are all these cars coming from and who is paying for them, and are the bad guys actually bad or just obnoxious), but the gorgeous neon lights and genuine sense of fun make it surprisingly bearable. No one is trying to convince you that the film means more than what it portrays, and the sequences of reckless driving really are exciting, while Black is no awe-inspiring hero but a stand-in for the audience’s passive musings. Where the film could improve is in giving us a bit more detail about drifting and his learning how to do it; this one could have achieved a sort of grungy cult status but instead focuses more than necessary on silly male rivalry over a bland female caricature and not enough on the engine muscles.