Dominic Torretto (Vin Diesel) is still making his money the hard way - and the illegal way, as today he is stealing fuel from a tanker in The Dominican Republic, while it's on the move. As the vehicle races along precarious roads in the middle of nowhere, Dom and his team in three cars advance on the tanker and his girlfriend and partner in crime Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) climbs out of the hurtling car and jumps onto the back of the last trailer, then sets about freeing it and its fellow containers from the truck. But things don't go according to plan and soon Dom has found himself trapped...
For the third sequel to The Fast and the Furious, it was as if those intermediate movies had never happened as the old gang got back together, well four of them anyway, to offer a follow-up which largely ignored those previous instalments and sought to start afresh. Well, almost, one character from Tokyo Drift, the third one, appears here to indicate that occurred in these characters' future, which was doubtless because the director of that, Justin Lin, was also at the helm here, and indeed directed the fifth and most highly praised in the franchise. But before that, part four was necessary.
It just wasn't much good, not terrible by any means, but displaying the drawbacks of what came before: paper thin plot, wafer thin personalities, and action which was the be all and end all of the purpose without being especially engaging. Except on a level which got the thing moving, that was, which at least was not to be sneezed at because sharklike if a Fast and Furious movie stopped in its tracks it would die - we could tell that due to the scenes where the cast were called on to emote, whereupon you found yourself growing restless in anticipation of the next chase. This was a problem here because one of the characters died, yes, bad luck Michelle Rodriguez fans, she bit the dust yet again.
Poor old Letty didn't last long past the first action sequence as no sooner is she soul-searching with Dom which has him opting to leave her to go underground (or even further underground than he is already) he receives word that his old squeeze has been killed in a car crash. Yet he knows better, and realises that she was in fact murdered which is the trigger for the rest of the movie where he tracks down the crime lord who bumped her off. But wait, there were more people in that original than Dom and Letty, so what happened to his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and the undercover cop who nearly took him down, Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker), surely they have to make an entrance somewhere?
Yes they do, as it turns out Brian is investigating the same mystery man who Dom wants to track down, handy because it allows us to get back to the real love affair here: no, not with the cars, not between Brian and Mia, but between Brian and Dom. You can count down mere minutes between their first meeting in ages and the moment where they fall into each others' arms and get down to business - with a fight, naturally, but we can tell what they really wanted to do. If that heady atmosphere of mancrushes isn't enough for you (and it certainly has you wondering why Brewster showed up seeing how little she's given to do) then there's always the vehicles zooming around city streets and barren countryside to distract you, which even in a series so reliant on them were much of a muchness. That was until the final chase which is staged at the Mexican border and involves a tunnel system; this is what they should have been like, but it took an hour and three quarters of generic car pursuits to reach it. Boded well for the next entry, of course. Music by Brian Tyler.