Drifting, Tokyo or otherwise, is a fancy street-racing term for what amounts to a controlled skid. In person, where you could appreciate the difficulty and danger, it might be exciting, impressive, even beautiful. In a film—particularly one as allergic to long takes as The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift—it just looks like another digital effect. Lucas Black, playing a teenage outsider in the Beverly Hills, 90210 mold (driver’s license says 17, chest hair says 23), is sent to live with his estranged father in Japan after one too many traffic accidents. Dad acts like a hardass, then can’t be bothered as Black falls in with the yakuza. By blending schlocky acting and laughably pretentious dialogue with sharp plot twists and peppy direction, the first Fast and the Furious achieved a strange alchemical perfection as the ultimate dumb action movie. But like 2 Fast 2 Furious before it, Tokyo Drift is a subculture in search of a compelling story line, and Black’s leaden performance makes you pine for the days of Paul Walker.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 13, 2006