Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jordana Brewster all return in their original roles that began with the 2001 film The Fast and the Furious, which was loosely based on a magazine article by Ken Li.
You can tell Walker has spent time building his acting skills in smaller films. His reprisal as agent Brian O'Connor brings even more dramatic depth into the story, which involves international crimes. Brian’s explanation of why he released Dominic Toretto at the end of the first film creates a nice arc for the character as Walker handles the dialogue and action very well.
Diesel, who also co-produces, returns as Dominic Toretto, who also appeared at Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift ending. This bona fide star has a magnetic appeal that equals Rodriguez’s fiery performance as Letty. Brewster reprises her role as Dominic’s sister and Brian’s love interest, Mia.
A star with a lesser presence then Diesel wouldn’t be able to elevate the material, which is basically a marketable story with a marketable ending that only drags in a few spots. Dominic has lived through tough decisions and outcomes that didn’t always go his way – a far cry from the boastful, center-of-the-universe attitude he previously had.
As in previous installments, the visuals have a huge impact as the audience gets a realistic depiction of the underground street-racing world full of “10 second cars”, international crime, and fierce competition. Dominic lets his actions do the talking more in this installment as he and Brian find themselves knee deep in the law and past transgressions.
Han, played by Sung Kang, also returns from The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, which puts a spin on this movie series’ timeline. New characters include Gisele Harabo, played by newcomer Gal Gadot, who’s involved in some hefty operations. There's not much carryover from the second film, 2 Fast 2 Furious, except for the stress on action and Dominic’s method for getting into a car.
Liza Lapira and Shea Whigham provide good support in smaller performances as law enforcement agents who are in support and in question of Brian’s vigilante style of justice which borders criminal activity. All of the main characters' motives are clearly defined, while many supporting characters are very similar to keep the audience guessing which characters are involved in the serious crimes in question.
The plot works well except for a missing explanation of how Brian gets into a club. Give filmmakers credit for focusing more on story than style in this 107 minute screen screamer, written by Chris Morgan, who understands the fan base enough to incorporate some of the most memorable lines from the previous installments, like “You owe me a 10 second car.” And others. Filmmakers even recreate Mia and Dom’s house for more continuity. The plentiful sex appeal continues among the numerous extras, though filmmakers keep love scenes between principal character pairings, Dom and Letty/Mia and Brian, surprisingly short.
Director Justin Lin, who also directed the Tokyo Drift installment, handles the action well and the editing is smooth, yet quick enough to enhance the impact of the visuals. The sound editing and sharp cinematography add to the high level of entertainment you get from this film.
A huge share of the film’s success comes from the stunt drivers who produce some of the most spectacular moments ever captured on film with enhancement, not interference, from digital special effects, which doesn’t overwhelm the impact. Recommended and rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sexual content, language, and drug references.