2 Fast 2 Furious Review
Let's be clear about this - 2 Fast 2 Furious is trash, no doubt about it, but it's the best kind of trash, a good cheap thrill like Cradle 2 The Grave which you might sniff at in front of your cineaste friends but which will probably see the inside of your DVD player a lot more regularly than The Pianist. That's not faint praise. Guilty pleasures are thin on the ground these days and so are sequels that top their predecessors. This is an all-round improvement on The Fast And The Furious, a surprise hit in 2001 thanks to up-and-coming stars Vin Diesel and Paul Walker and its clever exploitation of the custom car subculture. As marketing, it was ingenious. As a movie, it was a pale rip-off of Point Break, which stole almost every twist of the older film's plot but mustered little of its excitement. Even the standout action sequence, in which fragile-looking cars tried to hijack an eighteen-wheeler truck at high speed begged the question, why didn't the truck driver just run them off the road or flatten them like pizza dough under his wheels?
Perhaps as penance for its predecessor's sins, 2 Fast 2 Furious contains a scene where a car is crushed like roadkill by a truck after becoming trapped underneath, a moment that will make anyone who's driven on a motorway wince. The car action this time is much more inventive and exciting, the credit for which must go to director John Singleton. An acclaimed film-maker whose work includes Boyz N The Hood, Singleton's a surprising choice for a throwaway action sequel but, to his credit, he gets right into the spirit of things, creating a cocktail that is one part Max Power magazine, one part hip hop video and one part Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. The film is gorgeous to look at, its South Florida locations bathed in sunshine and neon, and Singleton lets his camera linger lovingly over his stars, souped-up Japanese production cars as colourful and shiny as children's toys.
The women in the cast are treated much like the cars, as desirable commodities. Model Devon Aoki, who appears on the poster and looks like Estella Warren's Japanese half-sister, has a supporting role as a driver but her real function is to pose next to the cars in the most miniscule outfits the PG-13 rating will allow. Eva Mendes has a bit more to do as an undercover agent but since her cover is acting as a druglord's girlfriend (let's not even get into the legal and ethical issues there!), duty compels her to lounge by his pool in a bikini that looks like it was painted on. Curiously, despite all the eye-candy, there's no sex in the film and not even any romance beyond flirting and a couple of chaste kisses. The male leads pay little attention to all the female flesh and seem happier wrestling with each other. Harry Knowles from Ain't It Cool News called 2 Fast 2 Furious a gay love story but I think it's more pre-pubescent. Like a 13-year-old boy, the film notices girls and likes looking at them but is nervous about getting too close to them.
The plot gives us more or less the same buddy story as last time, the buddies being Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker), a street-racer and ex-cop who was thrown off the force for his actions in the original and Roman Pearce (Tyrese), a childhood friend of Brian's who blames him for the time he spent in jail. Tyrese replaces Vin Diesel, whose price tag had risen too high for the sequel's producers but the character and his relationship with Brian are virtually the same. The two men have been brought together by the Miami cops who need two drivers to go undercover and help nail a South American drug baron called Carter Verone (Cole Hauser), a nasty piece of work who intimidates a minion by placing a live rat on his stomach underneath a metal pail and heating the pail with a blowtorch. As he explains, the only way for the rat to escape the heat is by gnawing its way down. Verone is looking for a couple of skilled drivers to make an important pick-up for him. It would be helpful to keep a low profile so naturally he recruits the owners of the brightest, most conspicuous automobiles in the United States and auditions them by sending them thundering across the Everglades to fetch him a package. Brian and Roman win and are invited into Verone's inner circle but how long can they keep their cover and what dangerous mission does Verone have planned for them?
The cliches pile up and so do the implausibilities. All credibility is thrown out the window in the opening scene, in which an illicit street-racing club apparently clears all the traffic from downtown Miami for a one-lap race and even improvises a jump out of a drawbridge. The organisers of the Monaco Grand Prix could learn from these people. As for the stunt right at the end involving a boat, I wouldn't know where to begin. But looking for logic in a film like this is silly. If you're planning to see it, you're not interested in whether it makes sense, you want to know if the cars are cool, the action scenes well done, the boys hunky and the girls sexy. They are. The script may be the wet dreams of a car-obsessed schoolboy but the finished film is good, brainless fun and on a warm summer evening that may be exactly what you're looking for.
NOTE: 2 Fast 2 Furious has been cut by 11 seconds in the UK for a 12A certificate. The cuts are for violence.