Paul Walker – Brian O’Conner
Tyrese Gibson – Roman Pearce
Eva Mendes – Monica Fuentes
Cole Hauser – Carter Verone
Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges – Tej Parker
Thom Barry – Bilkins
James Remar – Markham
Devon Aoki – Suki
Genre – Action/Crime
Running Time – 108 Minutes
Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), formerly of the LAPD, is now a fugitive after letting criminal Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) escape in THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS. Knowing the cops are after him for going against their plans, Brian travels from California to Miami, participating in underground street races to make income and survive under the radar. After a street race is infiltrated by Miami police, Brian is busted.
While the cops want Brian to be punished for his crimes, they realize his expertise would be useful in locating and bringing in a local crime lord named Carter Verone (Cole Hauser). With the return of FBI Agent Bilkins (Thom Barry), Brian is offered a clean record if he helps the local law enforcement bring down Verone with the help of undercover agent, Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes) – who is currently “acting” as the girlfriend of Verone.
Realizing that cars would be involved, Brian requests the help of a childhood friend, Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), wanting a clean slate for him as well if the mission goes down as planned. With both Brian and Roman on board with the investigation, the two estranged buddies will prove to everyone around them that they are 2 fast and 2 furious.
- Most of the cast. Let’s just get one thing clear here – none of the acting here is at all exceptional or anything. The first film’s cast are better thespians than the ones here, especially with this sequel’s poor script. But I can’t help but be entertained by how poor the actors’ deliveries were, which made the film more watchable than it had any right to be. Save for one really, I didn’t mind the “acting” here too much.
Tyrese Gibson, model-turned-singer-turned-actor, is irritating and annoying at times because he tries too much to be funny or to be heard. Maybe that’s due to the fact that he has to compensate for Paul Walker’s performance [who I will get to shortly], but Tyrese’s performance is a bit over-the-top. But at least he brings energy and some charm to the film, although he doesn’t replace the coolness or intensity of Vin Diesel in the same role.
Eva Mendes is a good actress, and she tries her best here as Monica Fuentes. She doesn’t really get much to do but flirt with Walker, get slightly abused by Cole Hauser, and get insulted by Tyrese. But she looks great doing it, so there’s that! Hauser is laughable as the villain. He comes across as a shady salesman rather than some crime lord. He’s so unoriginal in the role, that it’s unintentionally laughable. So at least he entertained me somewhat. Thom Barry and James Remar do well in their smaller roles.
Ludacris surprises as Tej. He’s not that bad here honestly and is quite charming and likeable. Nice to see that they kept him in the franchise because he’s one of the better actors here. And I don’t know what the purpose for Devon Aoki in this film was, but at least she’s cute and has some sass. Like I said, none of these actors were great, but at least they amused me for various reasons.
- The action. While I do think the action in the first THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS film had more heart, soul, and tension than in this sequel, I did like the car chases and races in 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS. The cars look cool and how the races were set up and executed were visually pleasing. I thought the first street race was pretty cool. The chase for Carter’s package in his stolen corvette is actually pretty darn great, capturing some intensity and excitement. I really liked the final set piece with all the cop cars and all the cars coming out of the garage to intercept them away from Brian and Roman as they chased down Carter. I wish some of the moments were shot better [less close ups of eyes and meters would have been beneficial], but they were placed and paced within the film well.
- The film looks nice. While the direction is generic and uninspired [surprising since it’s by John Singleton, who’s directed some great stuff like BOYZ IN THE HOOD], I think the cinematography is actually quite beautiful in 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS. Matthew F. Leonetti, who has done work on 1985’s COMMANDO and 1997’s MORTAL KOMBAT: ANNIHILATION, really makes the picture pop with vibrant colors and nice scenery shots that help make the Miami setting set this sequel apart from the grittiness of the California setting in THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS. With the film already embracing that it's eye candy and nothing of substance, the cinematography compliments that pretty perfectly.
- Fast paced. For a 108 minute flick, 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS never wears out its welcome. It moves as fast as the cars in the film, going from scene to scene without much of a thought. In fact, the film feels shorter than its running time. So while there’s not much to this sequel, at least it doesn’t bore you and does what it needs to do without a second thought.
- Paul Walker. I don’t hate Paul Walker. As a matter of fact, I think he is capable of being a decent actor given the right material. 2001’s JOYRIDE and 2006’s RUNNING SCARED prove that Walker can add to a film rather than take away from it. Plus, I’m sure those who see a film, just because he’s in it, want to look at his pretty boy appearance anyway.
But man, Walker is freakin’ TERRIBLE in this film. And he’s the STAR! Walker makes Keanu Reeves look like Daniel Day-Lewis in the process. The guy is a black hole of charisma, sucking in everyone around him with his blandness and tired delivery. And when he attempts to be “cool” by saying “bro” every other line, Walker just embarrasses himself. There’s a reason why Vin Diesel was brought back to this franchise besides a sweet paycheck. The producers realized that Walker needed someone to balance his non-charisma. As much as Tyrese tries to compensate, it just brings out Walker’s dull performance more than it should have. It’s sad because I didn’t think Walker was all that terrible in the first film. But he’s just lame here and helps bring the sequel down.
- No soul. THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS didn’t hide the fact that it’s a silly film that focuses more on the style than on the substance of its story. But the actors and the crew on the film really cared about the product and created a level of charm that makes THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS a modern guilty pleasure for action seekers. While the lack of plot was an issue, at least it followed POINT BREAK’s template [to a lesser extent] well enough for viewers to kind of care about what they were watching.
The same can’t be said about 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS. While this sequel also focuses more on style than substance, at least the first film had a bit of depth to it when it came to the tension between Brian and Dom and Brian’s dilemma with his decision that sets forth this sequel. You don’t get any of that here. It tries to do similar stuff, like an attempt to focus on the rift between childhood best friends Brian and Roman – as well as make viewers believe that undercover agent, Monica Fuentes, may be working too undercover and forgetting her original mission by sleeping with the enemy. But these two things never go far enough and just end up being stereotypical plot points that don’t resolve themselves in a satisfying way. The Brian and Roman issue quickly becomes a non-issue in a couple of scenes after it’s introduced in the story, as if it never was there to begin with. And Monica seems torn with being a good undercover agent, sleeping with Carter, and flirting with Brian – yet none of it means much at the end, as it’s all forgotten and everything is back being hunky-dory. If you’re just gonna half-ass something, then why bother to begin with? Besides, fulfilling these two subplots in particular to their potential would have benefited the sequel in the long run.
In fact, none of the characters here feel like real people. They’re all stereotypes. They’re all cartoons. They’re all generic roles that need to be filled in order for this “story” to play out the way it does. And while this franchise isn’t realistic at all really, at least the first film was kind of grounded. This sequel is just way too silly as we follow characters we could really care less about. Was I entertained? Sure, because it’s brainless and sometimes I don’t want to think about what I’m watching. And the dialogue, while really annoying, made me chuckle because I couldn’t believe grown ass men actually think it’s cool to say “bro” so many times, not realizing it lost its meaning by the fifth time it’s uttered [and this is within a two minutes of screen time!]. But there’s no real reason for this film to exist. Yes, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS was created to focus on the Brian O’Connor character. But the first film established that Dominic Toretto was the character with the real story. And he’s the one we ought to be following, not bland Brian. While Vin Diesel couldn’t film the sequel due to filming 2004’s A MAN APART, I’m sure he read the script and realized that the money wasn’t worth it. Don’t blame him, since he probably wouldn’t have had anything interesting to do besides drive cars.
And John Singleton obviously directed this film for a paycheck. The man can direct a great flick with substance, but none of that is found here. Still, I guess every director just wants to make a fun film every once in a while. I just wish it clicked better than it does. There’s nothing wrong with the direction really at all. The editing is fine. The use of CGI is okay [although having CGI cars is kind of silly, don’t you think?]. The pacing is great. It’s just generic storytelling though. There’s no heart. There’s no soul. 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS is a cash-in sequel. Nothing more. Nothing less. I can’t reward laziness.
THE FINAL HOWL
2 FAST 2 FURIOUS is a mediocre sequel that ends up being pretty unmemorable by the end of it. Sure it breezes by. Sure the performances are so laughable, you’re entertained throughout. And the action is pretty good, which isn’t surprising. But there’s no substance here, and the film is dragged down by a lead actor who is too plain to be carrying any sort of action film. I’m not expecting anything thought provoking or deep. But at least have a plausible script that will grab me and make me feel something. Watching multiple car chases and races within two hours can only go so far until you’re wanting something else. It’s really too bad the screenplay wasn’t better, because this could have been a better “buddy cop” film than the final result. Not the worst film out there [or even the worst sequel], but a disappointment compared to the original.
2 Howls Outta 4