Rated: PG-13 for language, some violence, sensuality, thematic elements and brief drug use. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: May 12, 2017 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.
A perfunctory, but occasionally persuasive look at a car culture and familial strife is told with grace and gratitude towards Mexican-American culture and street artistry in East Los Angeles by Richardo de Montreuil in Lowriders. Here's the antithesis to what a major studio-morphed Fate of the Furious has become downplayed from its eponymous backdrop.
The Elysian Park area is where Danny Alvarez (Gabriel Chavarria) modestly dwells with his family, including old-school mechanic dad Miguel (Demian Bichir of A Better Life) and stepmother Gloria (Eva Longoria). Danny hesitantly assists pop at his 'Alvarez and Sons' shop when he's not moonlighting in showcasing his graffiti.
Another coming-of-age opportunity evolves as the young man looks to step away from the clutches of his conflicted old man as his older brother Francisco 'Ghost' (Theo Rossi) returns to the neighborhood after an eight-year prison term (though the nature of his guilt is in doubt to a degree). Also, a hipster photographer in Lorelai (Melissa Benoist) is a means of escape.
The storyline may not develop in a preferred proficiency even with a twist that relies on narration to give the necessary coverage after a long absence from an introductory passage. It works in authority, acrimony and confidence in individualism as tension is felt from the loss of Miguel's first wife; the patriarch wants to repair past indiscretions ('think of pictures like A Place Beyond The Pines) with his sons to mark a desired legacy.
Longoria fills the gravitas of her part adequately and Benoist deals well with a stereotypical part; Rossi (best known as 'Juice' on the biker drama Sons of Anarchy, Cloverfield) offers an intimidating appeal while Tony Revolori (Grand Budapest Hotel, Dope) epitomizes the greenhorn wanting to be in the coterie.
A bald, hirsute Bichir evinces another interesting turn through Miguel whose father had artistic prowess but less clear on the auto aplomb that his son demonstrates so well with a vintage red Chevy. And, Chavarria demonstrates a natural ability for the vicissitudes Gabriel goes through even if Lowriders may not rev up its cinematic engine in more nuanced, less pat ways.