If ’80s redux fourquels like Die Hard 4.0 and Rambo are the movie-star equivalent of Viagra-powered pre-retirement benders, this follow-up to a recent action franchise puts stars Paul Walker (who was in The Fast And The Furious and 2 Fast 2 Furious) and Vin Diesel (who sat out the first sequel but cameoed in The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift) in the position of 30 year-old guys who bust up their lives and have to move back in with their mums.
Since showing promise in 2001, when the original was a surprise hit, Diesel has gone from contender to pariah via xXx and The Pacifier, while even the most dedicated fact fan might need to check with the IMDb to name any Paul Walker credit beyond his eighth billing in Flags Of Our Fathers (Into The Blue? Eight Below?).
Obviously, both leads need a jolt of career nox to stay out of the DVD Dungeon, and — roles for tough, interesting women being as scarce now as in 2001 — the wholly wonderful and utterly sidelined Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster are back in the harness too, along with a micro-bit for Sung Kang, who starred in Tokyo Drift, to tie together the series’ sprawling over-story.
The mix is as before — superstar illegal drivers strutting with babes hanging off their arms just in case you thought there was anything, well, gay about their twin obsessions with weirdly unattractive muscle cars and each other. The clunking plot finds old friends/foes Brian and Dom competing to get close to a mystery mobster who apparently needs fast drivers but, as it happens, doesn’t really.
Even with stars on cruise mode, coming to life only when they get to thump the odd annoying supporting character, this would have worked if only it delivered the series’ moneyshot scenes — fantastic car stunts, chases and pile-ups. But, in contrast with the grit of the first movie, computers have taken over: a multi-car/petrol tanker raid that serves as a prologue relies too much on CGI to augment the stuntwork, and the one big race sequence finds the outlaw drivers taking orders from sat-nav.