What do you do when one of your main stars declines to return for a sequel to your hit film? Push ahead with the sequel anyway, so answered the producers of 2 Fast 2 Furious. The result could have been very much a direct to video quality sequel with the budget of a theatrical release. Fortunately, a director who understands what made the original film work so well, in addition to a charismatic cast collectively make 2 Fast 2 Furious a worthy sequel and a stand alone film in its own right. It’s certainly not high art, and any semblance of a logical narrative has been deliberately tossed out the window in favour of mindless entertainment. And that’s okay, because this movie, while not as memorable or unique as The Fast and the Furious, is still a lot of silly fun. The characters are just as likable, and there is tons of style to spare.
Now in Miami, ex-LAPD officer Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) is recruited by undercover U.S. Customs Service agent Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes) to bring down the city’s biggest drug lord, Carter Verone (Cole Hauser). To help him, O’Connor teams up with an old rival, Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) and a new friend, Tej (Ludacris). This premise opens up so much potential for the filmmakers to add in the cars, the high stakes action, and the comically self-aware dialogue that made the first film so much fun. Yet despite some pretty cringe worthy lines and senseless plot points, there is a rather small gap between potential and execution, which means fans of the original movie will find enough here to keep them entertained.
Paul Walker and Tyrese share good chemistry. The way they’re able to play off each other’s performances make their characters instantly likeable. Tyrese, in particular, provides a lot of good comic relief as his character always has a comeback or a thought to share.
O’Connor: You know when he gets out he’s gonna kill your ass.
Roman Pearce: Yeah, he’s not getting out. He’s not getting out right?
The supporting cast members are fun to watch. The shame is that their performances are inconsistent. For example, Devon Aoki, who plays Suki says her lines like she’s reading off cue cards. She shows no emotion or any semblance of sass to get across already clunky written lines. This is particularly disappointing because her character is the only female street racer we see. So much could have been done with this character, but Aoki wastes the potential, and the script regulates her character to a mere love interest for someone else. If Robert Rodriguez saw 2 Fast 2 Furious, he could easily be forgiven for casting Aoki in an entirely dialogue-free role for Sin City. Audiences will suspect Ludacris, Eva Mendes, and Cole Hauser as merely taking a paycheck because while their presence is welcome, their performances are simple and rather uninvolving. It falls almost completely on Walker and Tyrese to hold this movie together.
Like The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious aims to entertain with fast cars and high octane car chases. Director John Singleton makes every frame as flashy and as colourful as he can, from matching the paint job on the cars with what the drivers are wearing to vibrant day shots of lush Florida scenery, the film looks gorgeous if nothing else. Generally, it’s a no brainer as to what the outcome of the races or chase scenes will be, but unlike The Fast and the Furious, not everything is won by just hitting the nitrous oxide button at the right time. There is one particular tag team drag race scene that balanced realism with a character’s unconventionally intelligent idea to defeat two much more powerful and faster cars. As for the other action scenes, well, they frequently defy logic, but in a way that will have you smiling at the sheer stupid fun around you.
It’s a real credit to the film that the director of Boyz in the Hood helmed this sequel. Without any of the original cast, save for Walker, he still managed to make this whole ordeal feel necessary and engaging. Even Verone’s recruiting policy, which is essentially about hiring trained drivers in order to test their ability to move product, is filled with ulterior motives that manage to hold you in suspense. 2 Fast 2 Furious feels like it was an obligatory sequel. It doesn’t quite match the spirit of its predecessor. But Tyrese provides a lot of new energy in replace of Vin Diesel. The script ensures that we will get many shots rotating around cars and gorgeous women. And the plot, while about as silly as the first one, allows the characters to find the right chemistry and make the movie a ton of fun, which it is.