The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift Justin Lin

I absent-mindedly managed to be somewhere else during the runs of The Fast and the Furious and its first sequel. Number three has the advantage of being set in the novel locale of Tokyo and the disadvantages of being transparently contrived and ludicrously sexist. Nevertheless, things keep moving at such a breakneck clip that you’re incapable of thinking about the nonsense plot.

No sooner are we introduced to hero Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) then we’re smack in the middle of a high-school drag race that induces his long-suffering mom to pack our boy off to father in Japan. Then, we’re whisked into the world of Tokyo street racing, particularly the practice of "drifting,” where skidding is part of the sport and the women all dress in ridiculous hoochie mama drag.

There’s a sensitive underworld friend named Han (Sung Kang), a black "Cheaplaffs Johnson” sidekick in Twinkie (a humiliated Bow Wow) and a mysterious love interest named Neela (Nathalie Kelley), but mostly there’s the screech of tires, the crunch of metal and the most omnipresent hit soundtrack in the history of recorded sound. Were I not completely distracted by the rapid montage and the general loudness, I’d chide the film for its questionable racial politics, which amasses the gaijin community against the locals while using poor Bow Wow for crude comic relief.

But though much is made about the American-made Mustang used in the climactic race, the sheer idiotic brio with which the whole thing’s executed somehow made me throw my critical standards out the window. I’m not gear head enough to be impressed by the antics of cars and drivers, but any film where there are exactly five minutes of silence deserves our ironic respect. (Universal)