2 Fast 2 Furious. Universal Pictures presents a film directed by John Singleton. Written by Michael Brandt, Derek Haas and Gary Scott Thompson. Running time: 94 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for street racing, violence, language, some sensuality, and Paul Walker's acting). Starring Paul Walker, Tyrese, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, Thom Barry, James Remar, Devon Aoki.

2 Fast 2 Furious

When The Fast and the Furious was released two years ago, it became an unexpected success. A sequel was inevitable. Now, that sequel, the terribly named 2 Fast 2 Furious, has come upon us. And, while not unwatchable, it often comes close.

There is no question as to why this movie was made. It is here to make money, and nothing more. Sometimes, this is okay, but only if the actual movie has more to it than spectacle. Unfortunately, that's all 2 Fast 2 Furious is. The acting is terrible, the writing is juvenile, and the direction...well, (as unprofessional as this sounds) it sucks. But I just can't hate this movie, because of one scene - a large chase near the end of the movie involving hundreds of street cars. If it weren't for that, I would probably be scoring 2 Fast 2 Furious a full star lower.

The Fast and the Furious worked because the car races were exciting. Except for the one aforementioned chase, director John Singleton has managed to make the races in 2 Fast 2 Furious unbelievably boring. Instead of focusing on the cars or the actual race, Singleton uses close-ups on the drivers' hands, feet, and faces, so the races lose all sense of speed.

The original didn't have much in the way of plot, but, compared to the paper-thin story of 2 Fast 2 Furious (that took no less than five people to come up with), it has the depth of War and Peace. Six hours after seeing the movie, I truly can't remember much about what the "plot" actually was.

The best I can remember is that Brian O'Conner (Walker), the hero of The Fast and the Furious is no longer a cop. After being arrested for street racing, the FBI convinces him to work undercover. He teams up with childhood friend Roman Pierce (Tyrese) because, I guess, the filmakers intelligently decided that there was no way Paul Walker could carry a movie by himself (or maybe to create the most ambiguously homosexual twosome since Batman and Robin). They infiltrate the business of drug czar Carter Verone (Cole Hauser) by acting as drivers. Another FBI agent, Monica Clemente (Mendes) is already working as Verone's mistress. After that, I'm not really sure what happens. I think they're job is to take Verone's money and turn it, and Verone, over to the FBI, at which point their criminal records will be expunged.

In casting, about every possible mistake was made. Vin Diesel is replaced by Tyrese, who lacks both the charisma and screen appeal of the admittedly not-all-that-talented Diesel. Instead of the marginally talented Michelle Rodriguez or Jordana Brewster, we have Eva Mendes, who provides nothing more than a pretty face (and body) to look at. And then there's the incomparably terrible Paul Walker, who could very well be the worst actor working today. He sounds a lot like Keanu Reeves, but compared to him, Reeves has the range of Edward Norton.

You could watch 2 Fast 2 Furious without sound and it would have the same (or perhaps a better) impact than it does now. The laughable dialogue would be inaudible, it would be impossible to tell that Paul Walker is being boring, and the plot would be nothing more than short interludes between the T&A and that one cool car chase.

2 Fast 2 Furious will probably make a lot of money, and will probably spawn another sequel. The underlying idea of this type of film still has promise, and if the producers could get Rob Cohen (director of The Fast and the Furious) and - gasp! - Vin Diesel back, the third movie could be good. But I'm not grading the possibility of a better sequel; I'm grading 2 Fast 2 Furious, and this film is only marginally better than standard straight-to-video fare.

© 2003 Matt Noller