Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are at odds once again when a crime brings them back to the gritty streets of Los Angeles, amid the oil derricks, but this time ex-con Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and former undercover cop Brian O’Conner (Walker) must work together. There’s bad blood between them so that’s not easy since O’Conner infiltrated Dom’s juiced-up gang, dating-and-dumping his sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster), in 2001’s original “Fast & Furious.” But, as Brian explains to Mia, “The one thing I learned from Dom is that nothing really matters unless you have a code.”
So what unites Dom and Brian is a quest to capture a dastardly, elusive drug kingpin. Brian needs the guy because he’s a key witness for the FBI, and Dom is determined to wreak revenge. And that leads them into a series of elaborately staged races and chases. Vroom! Vroom! So who emerges triumphant?
As NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt once said, “The winner ain’t the one with the fastest car; it’s the one who refuses to lose.”
Since the plot devised by screenwriter Chris Morgan (“The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” “Wanted”) is formulaic, along with the dim-witted dialogue (“Let’s go before it’s too late.” “It’s already too late”), director Justin Lin concentrates on choreographing the action sequences. Beginning with the opener in the Dominican Republic, where Dom, along with his girl-friend (Michelle Rodriguez), hijack a speeding, double-sectioned tanker truck, to the climactic underground chase through a tunnel connecting the U.S. and Mexico, it’s all about screeching breaks, shattered glass, crunched metal and burning rubber, a veritable demolition derby.
Neither of the leading men – Diesel or Walker – exudes an iota of charisma, while the supporting women – Brewster and Rodriguez – are saddled with parts that simply lack relevance. And the bad guys, John Ortiz and Laz Alonso, are equally underwhelming. So on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Fast & Furious” flames out with a 2. You don’t need a road map to conclude this franchise has run out of gas and is going nowhere.