The stars look bored out of their minds when the fourth episode of the franchise stalls between racing sequences, which is all too often in a flick where 106 minutes speed by in what feels like at least four hours.
People who want nothing more out of a movie than an extended rap video -- there's lots of hip-hop, close-ups of cars, and women in shiny tiny shorts -- may be satisfied. But this movie isn't much more than a re-do of the first film in the series.
Boiled down to its essentials, F&F is four pretty swell auto-race video games encased in the bloated carcass of a script, by Chris Morgan, that must have been researched in the Archive of Movie Cliches.
Director Justin Lin still hasn't learned film geography. Even the kinetic tunnel races, meant to nitrocharge the movie, fall flat from spatial incoherence. You barely know what's happening, and to whom.
By the fourth installment of the franchise, Fast & Furious has shed two articles from its title, regained the four original lead actors, and turned shamelessly into a monotonous unofficial edition of the Grand Theft Auto gaming series.
Fast & Furious succeeds because the action is supercharged in a style that recalls Mel Gibson's apocalyptic classic, The Road Warrior. The characters are more than cartoonish, and the plot grips the road.
All four films feature terrific stunts. But Fast & Furious is the first film since the original to be smart about how far to stretch logic without sacrificing the desired macho swagger and revved-up emotions.
This means many loud racing sequences (ably directed by Justin Lin) that look like the very video games inspired by these movies: candy-colored automobiles, digital dashboards and automated female voices.