When screenwriter William Goldman said, “nobody knows anything” in Hollywood, he wasn’t kidding. Take 2001′s The Fast and the Furious, a $39 million-budgeted B-movie that mystified Hollywood pundits when it bolted out of the starting gate with $40 million in its opening weekend. By the time the Vin Diesel-fueled street racing flick made its final lap around the domestic track, it scooped up $144 million total, leading Universal to rush a sequel into production.
In 2 Fast 2 Furious, things are a little different. Not only does it have a bigger budget (doubled to around $78 million) and a different setting (moving from Los Angeles to Miami), but Paul Walker has a new co-star in rapper-turned-actor Tyrese. He slipped into the driver’s seat after Diesel dropped out over a salary dispute (taking the original film’s director Rob Cohen with him).
In an age where sequels tend to pale in comparison to the films that inspired them, at least 2 Fast 2 Furious is about as good as the first movie in terms of sheer entertainment value. The bad news is that style once again takes pole position over substance, with the film more or less resembling a sub-par episode of Miami Vice. That being the case, 2 Fast 2 Furious is still a fun thrill ride, thanks to some cool car chases, hot chicks and great chemistry between co-stars Walker and Tyrese.
Disgraced former LAPD officer Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) can now be found kicking back on the mean streets of Miami. He has one chance to redeem himself when he is recruited by the Feds to expose a crime lord (Cole
Hauser) in a money laundering operation, but he needs his old speed-freak pal Roman Pearce (Tyrese) to help him out. It doesn’t take long for Brian and Roman to get in over their heads, and only a sexy undercover customs agent (Eva Mendes) can help them cross the finish line with their lives intact.
Where The Fast and the Furious was grungy and casual, 2 Fast 2 Furious is slick and more polished. The cars are faster, the women are prettier and director John Singleton (Boyz ‘N’ the Hood, Shaft) keeps the film firmly rooted in “guilty pleasure” territory (in other words, don’t think too much about the plot). In addition, Paul Walker seems to have a much better grip on his character, and Tyrese slips into Diesel’s shoes with lots of energy and great comic timing.
As for the supporting players, Eva Mendes isn’t required to do much except look hot, which is exactly what she does here. She seems to enjoy flaunting her sexuality as she toys with both Walker and Tyrese, while Cole Hauser seems to be relishing his role as the film’s token bad guy. It’s an underdeveloped cliche-ridden role, but at least he makes the most of it by being a worthy opponent to Walker and Tyrese.
2 Fast 2 Furious may seem like the most unnecessary of all sequels, but at least you don’t need to see the first movie to give it a lap around the cinematic track. With top-notch car chases front and center here-and in other summer flicks like The Italian Job and The Matrix Reloaded — it’s nice to know that movies like 2 Fast 2 Furious have a while to go before they run out of gas.