Fast & Furious
Vin Diesel’s already-dubious ripped-tough-guy star has dimmed enough to warrant a return to the car-chase series that made him. In the latest, notably slack Fast & Furious (number four), Diesel reprises the role of larcenist/muscle-car-enthusiast Dominic Toretto opposite Paul Walker’s import-fancying undercover agent Brian O’Conner. The untimely death of Dom’s partner-in-crime sends the rivals converging on thoroughly unremarkable drug-runner Campos (John Ortiz); they infiltrate his surefire business model of smuggling heroin across the border via inconspicuous hot rods. For a sense of the movie’s road sequences, note that the press-kit blurb for Diesel climaxes with his video-game production shingle. Pointing out Xbox aesthetics has become as familiar a move as bemoaning the disappearance of the frame in mainstream cinema, but sequences in Fast & Furious are as up-front about imminent adaptation to video game as some directors used to be about accounting for future TV broadcast. But whether you blame the Part Four blues or Diesel’s gaming distractions, Fast & Furious reconfirms that car-chase movies — good, bad or mediocre — all assume the future employment of the quaint old fast-forward button.