Reviewed by: D.J. Williams
|Featuring:||Paul Walker (Brian O'Conner), Tyrese Gibson (Roman Pearce), Eva Mendes (Monica Fuentes), Michael Ealy (Slap Jack), Cole Hauser (Carter Verone), Ludacris (Tej), Thom Barry (Agent Bilkins), James Remar (Agent Markham), Devon Aoki (Suki), See all »|
|Producer:||Universal Pictures, Original Film, Mikona Productions GmbH & Co. KG, Michael Fottrell, Heather Lieberman, Lee R. Mayes, Neal H. Moritz|
“How fast do you like it?”
When The Fast and the Furious raced into theaters in the summer of 2001, not much was expected from it. However, the movie rose above the box office charts in a weak summer and became a smash hit. The movie’s blend of fast cars, cool guys, fast cars, attractive women, and fast cars made it the film to see among the teenage guy crowd. I have to say, I found it stale, dull, and uninteresting, with the only high points being a couple cool racing scenes and the good screen presence of Vin Diesel, in the film that made him a star.
Imagine my great lack of excitement then, at a sequel without Diesel and with, well, everything else. “2 Fast 2 Furious” actually is a good deal better than the first film, but in the end it’s just 2 senseless, 2 flat, and just plain not 2 good.
Returning for the sequel is Paul Walker, who reprises his role as Brian O’Connor. A former LAPD undercover cop, O’Connor lost his badge in the first film after allowing his friend, high-speed bandit Dominic Toretto (Diesel), to escape the police. When we pick up in “2 Fast”, O’Connor has taken up residence in Miami and hit the local street-racing scene.
Things are looking good, as he’s known around town as the man to beat. But, he gets busted after a race, and then is presented with a deal by the FBI. A big, nasty, drug lord (Cole Hauser) is looking for some fast drivers to make a delivery for him, and O’Connor is told that if he goes undercover, does the run, and helps make the bust, his record with the law will be wiped clean. He takes the deal, provided he can choose his own partner, who he finds in disgruntled childhood friend Roman Pierce (Tyrese Gibson). The two team up with the cartel, including Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes), the possibly compromised under cover FBI agent posing as the drug lord’s mistress.
What follows is plenty of undercover scheming, smooth-talking, fast-driving action. Unfortunately, it just can’t quite add up to an entertaining movie.
First things first, I found Paul Walker unbearably bad in the first movie. The only character remotely interesting in that film was the Vin Diesel character, who is not in this movie. We’re left with Walker, who, though not as poor as in the first film, is still a pretty bad actor and makes Brian O’Connor a really lousy main character.
If the producers would have dumped Walker and made a sequel about Diesel’s character, that could have been interesting—but that’s another discussion for another time.
Thankfully, like Diesel in the first film, we’ve got a supporting actor with solid screen presence in Tyrese Gibson. Tyrese brings realism and enjoyment to every scene he’s in, something Walker just doesn’t do. He’s charming, funny, cool—exactly what a movie like this needs. It just needs a main character like that. Bad as Walker is, though, Gibson makes the film bearable.
The rest of the male characters are pretty sketchy and worthless (save for a decent role by rapper Ludacris), and the females in the movie are more objects than characters, an aspect to the movie I found rather disgusting.
The action (which is, after all, what the movie is pretty much about) is actually pretty good, much improved over the original. Director John Singleton films the races/chases with a sleek, cool cinematography that shows off the colorful cars and high speeds. However, the endless use of the nitrous oxide boosters got old in the first movie, and it really feels tired in this one. Something new would have been nice.
Also, even though this type of film isn’t really concerned with realism, could the filmmakers have tried a little harder? Though some of the over-the-top stunts were fun to watch, I found it absolutely absurd that these guys could block off huge lengths of streets in urban Miami to hold their illegal street races, and go unnoticed by anyone (police aside, there is NOBODY anywhere to be seen) until the police conveniently bust in right after the race ends.
In the end, we have a movie that’s not really all that bad, is better than its predecessor, but finally comes up just short of being a good movie. Ironically, I think the film would have been better had it not been a “Fast and the Furious” sequel. If Singleton didn’t have Paul Walker and the fans expectations to deal with, he could have done a nearly identical movie with Tyrese Gibson and a slightly tweaked story and made a decent film.
Yet, what we have is what we have, and that’s a movie that can be filed under “almost, but not quite.” Considering the first movie, that may be a small victory in itself.
The film is rated PG-13 for street racing (that pretty much sums it up—lots of speed and crashes), violence (limited to only a couple scenes, not all that graphic but somewhat tense at one point), language (more persistent than graphic, pretty standard considering the rating and circumstances) and some sensuality (a lot of MTV-style scantily clad ladies, some dialogue, but no real sexual scenes). The movie is about illegal street racers and running from the cops, but this is more in the fantasy vein (similar to a heist film) than anything else. However, this, along with the mature content, certainly makes the film inappropriate for those under thirteen, as the rating suggests. A more mature teenage and adult audience should view the film with discretion.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.