Crap metal

Posted on 15 Jun 2006 at 7:33pm
By Steve Warren

Street-racing flick skids off track

THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT


RAVE HEAD: Reckless driver Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) is sent to live with his father in Tokyo to avoid going to jail.


C

Director Justin Lin
Cast: Lucas Black and Bow Wow
Opens June 16 in wide release.
1 hr., 44 min. PG-13

Like the cars in the overlong climactic race, the series goes downhill fast with the third installment, which has nothing in common with the first two but fast cars, loud music and a surprise cameo.

Lucas Black (the little kid from “Sling Blade”) is grown up. But at 23, he’s still playing teenagers. His Sean Boswell proves to be a weak hero whose only positive quality is being less bad than some of the people around him.

The opening sequence, reminiscent of “Rebel without a Cause,”? features a drag race between Sean and a wealthy Nazi who caught him talking to his girl. Busted, Sean is faced with Juvie or living with his father in Tokyo.

Soon he’s in trouble with a Japanese badass for talking to his girl, Neela (Nathalie Kelley). So they have a drag race. Sean builds a multi-culti circle of friends, including Twinkie (Bow Wow) and Han (Sung Kang), and drifts into crime but not very far.

The story drifts too between races, which involve “drifting,”? a Japanese-originated technique for driving sideways at high speed by avoiding traction.

Between races the movie merely drifts, with no plot development and the major players getting to spout some stilted quasi-philosophy that makes them sound almost literate. Sean proves to be a weak hero to build a movie around, especially when other characters’ likeability is based on their loyalty to him. His only positive quality is that he’s not as bad as some of the people around him.

Director Justin Lin seems adrift in Hollywood. This movie should make enough money to get him more studio assignments, and at least it’s better than his last one, “Annapolis.” But I wish he’d go back to his independent roots and give us another “Better Luck Tomorrow.”

OUT ON VIDEO BIG SMOOCH!


“Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” (Warner Bros., $27.98) is the wildest, funniest murder mystery in a long time, maybe ever. If you listed the 100 funniest lines in this movie, they would all make a list of the 200 funniest lines of 2005.

It’s even got a gay hero, although hard-boiled detective “Gay Perry” (Val Kilmer) essentially plays straight man to Robert Downey Jr.’s character, Harry Lockhart. (Yes, they have a kissing scene. No, it’s not serious.)

In school Harry had a crush on Harmony (Michelle Monaghan), whom he runs into in Hollywood. Harry’s a petty thief who stumbled into a New York audition and was sent to the coast for a screen test. Perry is hired to teach him detective stuff and two corpses turn up within three hours.

As you’d expect from a major studio, Perry is the only dick we see, and kicking is all he does to other men’s butts.

Downey has his best role since “Chaplin,” but Kilmer gives off an “I’m not really gay, I’m just playing a part” vibe. Or maybe he quit trying because he saw writer-director Shane Black gave Downey all the best material.

“Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is a kissable movie, if you can kiss while you’re laughing.

Steve Warren

Grade: B

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 16, 2006.

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