2 Fast 2 Furious Review
When you have a hit on your hands, especially an unexpected sleeper like The Fast and the Furious, you have to make a sequel. It’s just plain and simple Hollywood law. But what if your principal star, along with the director, both decide they would rather go and make “James Bond on a skateboard” instead? No problem, because a movie like Furious was really just about the cars. Just pull in the co-star of the first film, even if he is a bit wet, because it’s just about the cars. Just calling it The Fast and The Furious 2 would be a bit boring, so give it a “cool” name like 2 Fast 2 Furious. Get a rap song with “2 Fast 2 Furious” in it and hey, let’s get the rapper himself to be in the movie. On that flimsy premise we have the follow up to the 2001 hit, and whereas that was a fun piece of nonsense, this is a bit of a stinker.
When we last saw Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) at the end of the first film, he’d “left” his job with the police; since then he has been on the run and making money by street racing his way across the country. He’s now ended up in Miami, but whereas before they cordoned off a single street (as real street racers do), in this “Vice City” they can apparently close off half the city for their racing. But by means of a barmy (and fictitious) electro-harpoon gun the police capture O’Conner, and he’s hauled in front of his old boss. Instead of arresting him though, or at least an Internal Affairs inquiry, he’s immediately offered a new undercover assignment. Information from already undercover Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes) says that big name drug dealer Carter Verone (Cole Hauser) is looking for some drivers to shift some drug money. O’Conner takes the job or he goes to jail. He accepts only on the condition that he can work with an old pal, Roman Pearce (Tyrese). Pearce just happens to be an ex-con, and just to pile on the clichés, he now hates O’Conner due to an event in their past that wasn’t resolved. To spoil anything by saying if they are best buddies again or not by the end of the film would be just unfair now, wouldn’t it?
From this ludicrous premise we have an equally stupid story. How on earth the Police / Customs have failed to catch Verone when he does such moronic things as organize a movement of drug money via lurid cars travelling at twice the speed limit is unfathomable. But then the police are if anything even more stupid, so in this movie’s universe there is at least a balance of idiocy. From here on we have lots of car races / chases, lots of male bonding and a lot of very bad dialogue, much of it shouted.
The cast are largely made up of newcomers to acting with such day jobs as models or rappers, but they do competent enough jobs with the thin material they have to work with. Of the few experienced actors, Paul Walker is his usual anonymous self but Cole Hauser is at least suitably nasty, even within the bounds of such a poor character. The posters for the film play up Devon Aoki as a major character in the film, but after the opening race sequence she has little more to do than drape sexily over the hot cars. Director John Singleton started with Boyz N The Hood and has now descended to this, in a sort of Orson Welles style reversal of fortune. Even more disappointing is that he mentions in the disc’s extra material how he grew up in an area where street racing was a regular event, so it’s a pity that he couldn’t have made a better film about it.
So what about the real raison d’etre for the film, the car racing action? Certainly there are some spectacular looking sequences here, but for anyone with even the slightest petrolhead tendencies, that word stupid will crop up again. This is a world where 90 mph is fast, shifting down a gear automatically makes you go faster, and fire off a nitrous and you’re in the Millennium Falcon, jumping to light speed. At least the first film made a half-hearted attempt to stay within the bounds of real street racing. Here we have a film that while trying to outdo its predecessor has moved out of “larger than life” and into “just plain silly”. The climactic action sequence fools us into thinking that it’s going to be good and redeem the movie, but ends up as the silliest part of the film, and the need to keep it all within the bounds of a PG-13 American rating leaves it dull and sanitized.
I had hoped that even without its main star and director, this sequel would be as much fun as the original. The first film may have been Point Break with cars instead of surf boards but at least it was entertaining. This one is just dumb: dumb action, dumb dialogue, dumb characters, even for a throwaway popcorn movie. And any self-respecting petrolhead will be insulted by just how stupid the car action is. If I hadn’t spoilt my copybook by watching Madge’s execrable Swept Away I could have said this was the worst film I’ve seen all year. Of course the 12-year old American boys that were obviously the target audience for this movie lapped it up, as it made almost as much money as its predecessor. Unless you fall into that demographic I would steer clear.
It maybe a dumb film, but with all the exotic cars (and girls) it’s certainly a pretty movie to look at. The bold colours are reproduced faithfully in this 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer, especially in the night scenes, and the opening race sequence in particular. Not the very best picture quality I’ve seen, but pretty good nonetheless.
I used the DTS track on the first movie as a demo to convince several people of the virtues of digital sound systems. So where’s the DTS track this time around? Instead only a Dolby Digital 5.1 track is provided. This is decent enough, providing plenty of directional effects and a thumping musical score, but lacks the sheer “shake the walls” power that the DTS track of the original provided.
When first loading the disc you get a menu which allows you to choose which car you want to drive, Roman’s, Brian’s or Suki’s:
This takes you – via a short sequence – into each character’s menu, like Suki’s for example:
Each menu is the same except for individual extras for that character, but more about that later.
I always recommend not watching the extras until after the main feature, but the first extra here is designed for you to do just that, being a short film that bridges the original movie and this one. It’s a nice idea, but in reality you learn nothing that a few words of dialogue (or indeed simple guesswork) couldn’t have told you.
A commentary by director John Singleton which is at times interesting, but unfortunately frequently falls into the trap of him simply describing what’s on screen or repeating dialogue. Most amusing thing to come out of this commentary: Singleton mentions that when directing Paul Walker, Walker had said that “no director had really asked him to act before”. Make of that what you will…
In conjunction with the commentary, there is an anecdotes option, which provides on-screen trivia about the film, the cast and the cars. Nothing world-shaking here, but it’s best used with the commentary, as it only overlaps the information in the commentary once.
The main featurette is Shifting Gears: Inside 2 Fast 2 Furious. It’s the usual glossy marketing brochure for a movie, and as such isn’t particularly interesting. Paul Walker mentions several times that this movie is “more real” than the last one. Right.
There are five deleted scenes which run continuously, and instead of commentary, each scene is introduced by Singleton along with his editor Bruce Cannon. No action scenes here, just superfluous dialogue sequences, except maybe an early scene where at least a bit more effort is put into showing why they would readily welcome O’Conner back to undercover work.
Three minutes of outtakes feature the usual clowning around, showing off and giggling that these sequences always do. Was it only Peter Sellers who made outtakes funny?
If you have the “Turbo-Charged Edition” DVD of the first movie then you will already have Tricking Out a Hot Import Car which has been recycled for this disc. Playboy playmate Dalene Kurtis tries to look interested while technical advisor (to both films) Craig Lieberman shows how to convert a factory model into a hot car. More interesting than a lot of the extra material here, but at only a few minutes long you will get more info out of any copy of Max Power magazine.
Supercharged Stunts looks specifically at the car jump sequence or the “New Millennium Dukes of Hazzard” part of the movie as director John Singleton puts it. It’s the usual green-screen shots that we’ve all seen a thousand times before on other movie’s extras, but as some parts of the stunt were a little unusual it does hold some interest.
The five minute Making Music with Ludacris features John Singleton talking to the rap artist otherwise known as Chris Bridges about shooting the music video, then features a behind-the-scenes look at the video of Act A Fool.
As mentioned above, there are three different menus to choose from when starting the disc, and each has (the same) special extras for that character. First is Spotlight on… which is a brief piece on the character and the actor. Of most interest is Suki (Devon Aoki) mainly as she isn’t really mentioned in the main featurette. A bit of the usual “everyone was wonderful” love-in, but then it was her first major movie, so we can cut her a break. Next is The Ride which looks at the cars each character drives. Most interesting here is Paul Walker’s EVO VII, as technical advisor Craig Lieberman talks about the different versions that were used for different shooting sequences. Suki’s Honda S2000 covers mainly the special paint-job, and of least interest was that Tyrese had the paint job on the Eclipse changed because it wasn’t “cool enough”. Finally Driving School looks at each actor going through driver training. Here we learn that Paul Walker had the most experience of performance driving, and that Devon Aoki had driven nothing more than a golf cart before.
After the guilty pleasure that was the first film, this sequel turned out to be a very poor follow-up. Even looked at purely as the lightweight popcorn movie that it is, it really isn’t very good at all. The disc is competent enough technically, though the omission of a DTS track is nothing short of criminal, given the test disc quality of the previous DVD. Extra material is OK, but it’s the usual story of breaking it up into lots of little chunks to make it appear like there’s more than there really is. One to avoid.