Benjamin has been reviewing films online since 2004 and has seen way more action movies than he should probably admit to!
What's the big deal?
2 Fast 2 Furious is an action crime thriller film released in 2003 and is the first sequel to the 2001 release The Fast And The Furious. Once again set amid the glamorous world of illegal street racing, the film focuses on former cop Brian O'Conner teaming up with his ex-con buddy Roman Pearce in order to take down a Miami drugs lord. The film lacked the star power that Vin Diesel brought to the first film as well as the director, Rob Cohen, who was replaced by John Singleton. Despite largely negative reviews, the film still made over $236 million worldwide and would help shape the series in later, more ambitious sequels. The film's cast includes the returning Paul Walker and Thom Barry as well as series newcomers Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Eva Mendes and Devon Aoki.
What's it about?
Forced into leaving the LAPD after the events of the first film, Brian O'Conner now finds himself in Miami and making a decent amount of money racing his souped-up Nissan Skyline. After falling foul of US Customs Agent Markham, Brian is offered the chance to clean his criminal record in exchange for helping Markham bring down notorious drugs baron Carter Verone in a joint operation with the FBI. Brian accepts but on one condition - he is allowed to pick his ex-con childhood friend Roman Pearce as a co-driver.
Initially suspicious of Brian and his plan, Roman soon agrees to help his friend out. The mission is for them to masquerade as street-racers working for Verone alongside undercover Custom Agent Monica Fuentes, all so enough evidence can be gathered to put Verone away for good. But is Monica to be trusted, how dangerous can Verone really be and can Brian and Roman stop squabbling and racing each other long enough to get the job done?
What's to like?
It would be a safe assumption that viewers of 2 Fast 2 Furious would either be fans of the first film or one of these street-racing types these movies portray. If so, the film is playing to a captive audience - the movie is littered with automobiles of almost every type, all of them modified and pimped out to within an inch of their chrome-covered existence. Nissans, Hondas, Mitsubishis, Corvettes, Vipers - I even spotted a Chrysler PT Cruiser, one of the least sportiest cars I can think of! Genuine petrol-heads like myself might be inclined to wonder how much heavier these cars get when fitted with endless neon lighting and speakers that fill up your boot space but who am I to argue with these funky young people, all of whom are either wandering around in bikinis (even at night with no pool visible) or enjoying the sights of the aforementioned bikinis?
A fresh-faced Walker leads a young cast and feels a bit more at home than he did as the conflicted cop in The Fast And The Furious, here playing a more straight-forward anti-hero role. Gibson brings with him good-looking banter but is a shadow of Vin Diesel's charismatic Toretto, whose presence is sorely missed. Overall, the cast kinda play second fiddle to the cars whose throaty V8 rumblings and nitro injections say more than any of the hip-hop dialogue the characters seem to engage in.
- The Skyline GT-R seen driven by Walker was his own car which he had customised himself. He also performed many of the driving scenes himself including the powerslide towards the crowd at the end of the first race.
- The mansion used by Verone in the movie was actually owned at the time by Sylvester Stallone. They only had two days to shoot the necessary scenes but these were luckily completed on time.
- Vin Diesel turned down a $25 million fee to reprise his role of Dominic Toretto from the first film as he was shooting xXx at the time - with the director of The Fast And The Furious, Rob Cohen.
What's not to like?
So aside from the cast being overshadowed by a bunch of tricked-out motors and the notable absence of Diesel, what else does the film get wrong? First of all, the script is a horribly written piece of overblown nonsense - what kind of crime boss relies on noisy street-racers to launder his money in a way that is only going to attract the attention of whatever law enforcement agency are operating nearby? Even his torture method - which involves the combination of a steel bucket, a rat and a blowtorch - is needlessly dramatic. Hauser plays the role as a scene-chewing psychopath which is probably the right way to do it.
It also disappoints in the driving scenes compared to the first film. 2 Fast 2 Furious is devoid of the gripping stunt work the first film had by relying almost purely on racing scenes. And the problem with the racing scenes is that there are either swamped in cheap-looking CG whenever nitrous is used or they look much slower than they should be going. One of the most unsavoury aspects of the first film - the rampant sexism and misogynistic treatment of every female character - is sadly retained. Mendes never appears without showing some cleavage while Aoki's Suki is reduced to a token Asian female racer who wears as little as she can get away with. The whole film simply doesn't feel like a quality product, which the original did for around half the budget.
Should I watch it?
I doubt that the story is relevant to any of the later entries so in that respect, 2 Fast 2 Furious is a bit of a waste. It has more cars and more girls on display but sadly, makes do with a half-arsed storyline that doesn't pay off. The film also misses the presence of Vin Diesel although Walker does his best. But essentially it's the same blend of pimped-out wheels, improbable motoring mechanics, anonymous female eye-candy and thumping hip-hop soundtrack as before.
Great For: young men, the modifying community, anyone not fussed about a story, fans of the first one
Not So Great For: intelligent adults, female viewers, older viewers
What else should I watch?
There are no shortage of entries in the Fast & Furious series which started with 2001's The Fast And The Furious. It was a surprisingly entertaining watch - it's just as dumb and vacuous as this film but the driving scenes are more thrilling and the story is more exciting. The next in the series - The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift - also received mixed reactions for critics, leaving the series in some doubt. It wouldn't be until Fast And Furious - the fourth film in the series that acted as a reboot - that the franchise would begin to become much more successful. Furious 7, the most recent release at time of writing, took a staggering $1.5 billion.
Of course, not every car is the movie world is painted dayglow pink, shoots five feet of flame from its exhaust or has enough neon under the body to light up Vegas. The Love Bug had none of these things but plenty of heart and soul in a jaunty Sixties caper. The same can be said for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - both of these movies are excellent family films although younger viewers might tire of the old-fashioned nature of these movies. If you don't want the kids involved, then any one of the Mad Max series will suit you nicely.
Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges
Michael Brandt & Derek Haas *
Release Date (UK)
20th June, 2003
Action, Crime, Thriller
Razzie Award Nominations
Worst Remake or Sequel, Worst Excuse For An Actual Movie (All Concept, No Content!)
© 2015 Benjamin Cox
Pat Mills from East Chicago, Indiana on November 27, 2015:
This franchise, for some reason, has legs. I've seen a couple of them, and they left me unimpressed.