2 Fast 2 Furious
Grade: B-
Year: 2003
Director: John Singleton
Writer: Michael Brandt
Genre: Action
Rated: PG-13
By Scott Spicciati

Don’t worry if you haven’t seen the original “The Fast and the Furious,” it’s sequel is so brainless that it forgets there ever was an original movie. The cast is almost completely different, and so is the story, even though both the cast and the story are almost exactly the same--which doesn’t seem to make much sense, that is until you see it.

There’s more racing this time around, and the scenes are longer and more exciting. Where the first film was more about drama and character development, this one just shuts-up and hits the nitrous oxide. A very smart move by the filmmakers knowing their star, Paul Walker, doesn’t work well with dialogue.

"2 Fast 2 Furious" stars Paul Walker as Brian O'Conner, a former undercover LA street cop whose stripped badge lands him unemployed in Miami; how convenient his new life is in the city where the story takes place. Paul races for cash, and after witnessing the opening race of the movie, we conclude that he still has talent.

After the cops raid the scene and arrest O’Conner, he is brought to a headquarters-of-some-kind where he is offered a job by the authorities. By helping the police infiltrate a local drug smuggler, O’Conner will have his record erased. Just think; fast cars, hot women, crime fighting, having your record clean--who wouldn’t want this job? But of course, we must endure the obligatory (though brief), “what if I don’t?” exchange. After a little convincing by Agent Bilkins and Agent Markham (Thom Barry, James Remar), O’Conner is recruited. Not satisfied with his assigned partner, O’Conner suggests bringing in his old childhood buddy, Roman Pearce (Tyrese), to work with him in the job that entails becoming drivers for druglord, Carter Verone (Cole Hauser), where they will have to transport bags of money from one point to another.

Also undercover is Agent Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes), a sexy operative posing as Verone’s girlfriend for the last nine months. I couldn’t help but wonder if she had to sleep with him and how many times to keep her cover, or maybe Verone doesn’t like sex which would make Fuentes’ job much easier.

Anyway, all this leads up to the climax which consists of car chasing and lots of car chasing. Yes, the plot is ridiculous, brainless, and could never happen, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t have fun watching juiced-up cars burn up the streets of Miami. I did.

There’s no Vin Diesel this time around, and it’s hard to tell whether that’s a good or bad thing. When this film was being made, the rising action star opted for the role as a cop in pursuit of the drug cartel in “A Man Apart,” instead of being the pusher running from the cops in pursuit of the drug cartel. Initially, Diesel made the right choice. “A Man Apart” was a solo job rather than a co-starring opportunity, and that film was supposed to be a breakthrough role for Vin Diesel. Oddly enough, "2 Fast 2 Furious" is the better of the two movies. This proves, my friends, that the house always wins no matter how good the odds look.

Bad dialogue makes its way into the chase scenes as over-excited drivers shout one-liners to their fellow racers. Lines like “Watch this one,” and “Let’s see what you’ve got,” had me wondering if the drivers believed they could actually hear each other from separate cars. Just as bad as the dialogue is the acting. Walker has little talent, at least he doesn’t attempt to impress us, maybe because he realizes trying to act serious in a movie titled ׀ Fast 2 Furious” is just as silly as the movie itself. Tyrese isn’t any better. I didn’t buy into the grudge his character had on Walker’s for a past encounter, which existed only to add to a non-existent plot. However, I liked Ludacris, the loud fellow who runs the races. In my review of “The Fast and the Furious,” I expressed my appreciation to the filmmakers for not giving Ja Rule a long presence. I didn’t mind Ludacris’s.

"2 Fast" is all show and glamour designed to excite young audiences and action-loving moviegoers who made the first film so successful. As a sidenote, while watching “The Word Series of Poker” on the Travel Channel, I noticed some of the players wearing sunglasses while competing. I figure this is so other players can’t read their eyes and decipher their next move. In that case, it’s a smart move. I cannot, however, see the justification for some of the drivers in "2 Fast 2 Furious” wearing sunglasses during the midnight races. You can get killed for doing something like that.

Ready to dismiss the movie, I was shockingly thrown back by the film’s simple payoff at the end. It’s subtly brilliant and more satisfying than the similar movie in respect to money laundering, “The Italian Job.” No, there won’t be any Oscar nominations here, but at least we get to see some cool car crashes.

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