Directed by John Singleton
June 6, 2003
Brian O’Conner is pulled into action once again to stop a drug lord in exchange for a clean criminal record for him and his friend Roman Pearce.
As sequels go it is only an okay film despite its director’s pedigree. The man behind Boyz ‘n the Hood, Poetic Justice, and Higher Learning certainly knew how to craft a good film but here he just fell short somehow. It goes through the motions and certainly has its moments, but it never gets to anything special despite the director’s reported passion for the original story. To go off on a bit of a tangent, I think most passionate fans of any film can come up with good sequels in their heads. You would think that one with the ability to do that sequel and whose job is to create stories could do better than “Okay.”
Quite honestly not much actually happens in the movie if you take out the car action unlike the original. If you took out the car action in the first film, you would still have something. Not here. Take out the races and you have a weird one-off episode of some over produced yet shallow 90s crime drama.
Here we learn that O’Connor (Paul Walker) has fled Los Angeles and has been bouncing around the country making a living off of street racing. After settling in Miami, he stumbles into the plot of the film if you can call it that. Seriously. It is just a big series of coincidences that lands him back in action.
The vehicular action is quite cool and that includes the stuff that is obviously CGI but as I wrote earlier if you removed it you would probably have 45 minutes of story or much less and that includes establishing shots. The first film was much denser in the narrative and character development. This comes off as so much more shallow.
What somewhat saves this film however is the chemistry between O’Conner and the newly introduced Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson in his second acting role). They are fantastic together in a completely different way than the chemistry between Vin Diesel and Walker from the first film. Gibson and Walker when onscreen together are fantastic. Gibson on the few instances when he is by himself is not bad. Walker however when he is without Gibson usually is okay at best and at worst comes off as if he is trying too hard. There are moments when the character seems like he is desperate to be a so cool to his friends and it just comes off as bad. Grand Master B was more of a badass character. Look up who I am talking about.
Ludacris also makes his first appearance as Tej Parker in this film. He is a bit of a plot shortcut allowing the writers to avoid lengthy explanations on how Brian makes money or is getting needed equipment. Eva Mendes shows up as undercover U.S. Customs agent Monica Fuentes who has infiltrated Verone’s operation. She only shows up again in a cameo appearance in Fast Five. She is the dangerous beauty of the film with unclear allegiances that is their to give Brian someone to flirt with.
Cole Hauser is always good as the shady guy and it is no different here as Carter Verone. His need, which brings Brian back into action, is the plot of the film. Verone needs to get money from a drug house to a certain point so it can be physically moved out of the country. That is it. Why his guys cannot do it really escapes me. Fast cars racing along a highway is practically screaming to be noticed by law enforcement. Verone is supposed to be intelligent and crafty and his plot to move his money is anything but that.
The car action pads out the film. From the test to get the package from the “impounded” vehicle to winning new vehicles to testing out the rides and so forth this is a car commercial for tricked out cars and less a crime film. There is no issue with it being a place to showcase vehicles. The issue comes in that the story suffers because of that.
2 Fast 2 Furious is slick and shiny but ultimately empty. Sequels tend to go bigger but this feels like it went smaller. The story tries to emulate or continue the conflicted nature of Brian but instead it comes off more as him having a fun adventure. He really does not do much in the way of confronting his ideals or balancing what he must do with what is right. If anything, his character spends a great deal of time apologizing to Roman and trying to win him over for a past event that was not even his fault. Ultimately though the story is lackluster, and the film is only somewhat saved by the chemistry between Gibson and Walker.
2 Fast 2 Furious is not a must to see sequel. The only real need to see this is to understand how Roman fits into the later films. You will enjoy yourself but ultimately, I think it is unimportant whether you see it or not since the important stuff will be handed to you in those later films. I give this an “if you want.”