There’s a somewhat unfair notion that the third Fast And Furious movie is a cheap and cynical attempt to desperately the head of a rapidly sinking franchise above water. I mean, it’s utterly true but that doesn’t mean that it also can’t be a fun movie.
At this point even Paul Walker had jumped ship after headlining the previous movie so a whole new story featuring new characters was concocted throwing together the usual illegal racing shenanigans with a fish out of water plot utilising the extreme culture shock of moving to Japan.
Sean Boswell (a scowly Lucas Black) is a troubled slice of poor white trash who has trouble fitting in no matter where he moves to. Alienated at the war zone known as high school by all the jocks and plastics, he is forced to go live with his father in Japan after a street race with the captain of the football team causes more carnage than Godzilla with a dose of the shits. This being a Fast And Furious movie, everyone and their mother is utterly into cars and racing so Sean isn’t utterly lost in this new culture for long. However, he isn’t prepared for drifting, the style of racing where you cruise around super-tight corners instead using skill instead of raw engine power. Befriending a fellow high school hustler played by Bow Wow (formally the artist known as Lil’ Bow Wow) and hooking up with laconic, low level criminal Han, Sean somehow gets mixed up with the nephew of a Yakuza boss and his girlfriend. Needless to say, the only way this is going to be settled is by – holy shit, you guessed it – racing really fast on a mountain road perfect for drifting. Fancy that…
Ok, so TFATF:TD is as predictable as playing Rock, Paper, Scissors with a penguin (with those flippers they can only do paper, right?) but it does a lot with the little it has to work with and if nothing else it was the introduction of Justin Lin to this world who went on to helm 3 more sequels including the magnificent part 5 but if you like roaring car chases set to the drawling music of Kid Rock and ridiculously tacked on last second cameos, then you can’t really do wrong.
Unless, of course, you like a healthy dose of logic with your movies and then it becomes apparent that if there’s an inherent problem with drifting it’s that it’s not particularly fast or even remotely that furious and the story of a brash punk kid learning to find acceptance by learning to drive sideways is also the main plot of Pixar’s Cars. So there’s that…
And yet there’s so much charm in this odd little step-child to the Fast And Furious franchise that the fact they tried so hard to awkwardly ret-con the shit out of it to cram it into continuity AND that it took FOUR sequels to do so (despite being made in 2006 the desperate re-jigging now places it in a bizarre 2017 where all Japanese technology is 11 years behind everywhere else) means I have a surprising amount of love for this slightly malformed off shoot of a bunch of films still trying to find the right gear.