9. 2 Fast 2 Furious
The second – and most absurdly-titled – film of the series has its many staunch defenders, though I’m sadly not one of them.
While the only Fast and the Furious movie to be directed by a Best Director Oscar nominee in the late John Singleton, 2 Fast 2 Furious stands out as wanting without the presences of Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jordana Brewster. Granted, there’s a game attempt to compensate with the additions of Tej (Ludacris) and especially Roman (Tyrese Gibson) to the series, though the promising inclusions on the female side – Eva Mendes’ spunky undercover cop Monica Fuentes and Devon Aoki’s Suki – are painfully underused.
Along with the setting shift to sun-kissed Miami comes a fittingly hopped-up premise. Unlike most of the better movies in the series, the first sequel takes a swing at having an actual, sustained plot, and it’s unfortunately painfully dull, like Bad Boys II – which was released a month later, in fact – but with most of the charm and energy sucked out.
True to its Miami Vice-inspired vibe, it’s a much harsher beast than the original film; a guy gets mercilessly creamed by a truck early on, and there’s of course the infamous torture sequence in which a corrupt cop (veteran character actor Mark Boone Junior) almost has to endure a rat burrowing through his stomach.
And yet, even though this over-familiar crime serial tone is cross-pollinated with the expected street-racing shenanigans, the two never quite cohere. This feels like a script that was desperately re-shaped when Vin Diesel chose to star in The Chronicles of Riddick instead.
It doesn’t help that Carter Verone (Cole Hauser) is easily one of the series’ most forgettable villains, and the wildly unnecessary romantic entanglement between Brian and Monica feels lazily tacked on.
But what truly, truly kills this movie is the hideously constructed racing scenes. Singleton misguidedly doubles down on the silly CGI NOS aesthetic of the first film, adopting a plastic, video game-y style which would, ironically, inspire an entire generation of racing games. The final chase, leaning more on practical stunt driving than rancid digital mayhem, is at least a lot of fun – particularly that barmy final boat stunt.
It’s certainly not all bad; Walker and Gibson have solid chemistry and the movie adds some tropes to the series’ early cachet – namely an ever-presence of butts on-screen – though one gets the sense this isn’t really the film anyone actually wanted to make had Diesel returned to the fold.
2 Fast 2 Furious‘ narcotising script conspires with excessively effects-driven racing sequences to sap much of the fun out of an otherwise promising buddy cop setup.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
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