2 Fast 2 Furious (United States, 2003)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

There's good news and bad news about 2 Fast 2 Furious, the moronic follow-up to The Fast and the Furious and a contender for the worst movie of 2003. The good news is that it's better, albeit marginally, than Freddy Got Fingered. The bad news is that it's 15 minutes longer.

I understand the reasons underlying the existence of this pathetic excuse for a motion picture. The Fast and the Furious was unexpectedly successful, and, these days, whenever a movie speeds into the realm of being profitable, a sequel must follow, as surely as thunder follows lightning (and sometimes almost as quickly). The question I have is how and why anyone would approve this particular sequel. The mind-numbing stupidity of Hollywood decision-makers never ceases to amaze me. Tastelessness and mediocrity may be recipes for multiplex success, but I can't believe that even a car-obsessed teenage boy would enjoy this atrocity. The only reason any non-lobotomized movie-goer will see 2 Fast 2 Furious is because of its association with its well received predecessor. On its own merit, this movie should have bypassed theaters, video stores, and cable on its straight-to-the-garbage dump spinout.

In terms of casting, almost every imaginable error was made. Instead of Vin Diesel, we have model-turned-actor Tyrese, whose performance gives model-turned-actors a bad name. (Diesel reportedly backed out of 2 Fast 2 Furious because its production schedule conflicted with that of XXX. More likely, he read this script and realized that appearing in the movie would be tantamount to committing professional suicide.) Instead of Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster, we're stuck with Eva Mendes, whose expression makes her look like she's constantly trying to twist a cherry stem into a knot with her tongue. And, instead of jettisoning Paul Walker for someone with a scintilla of acting ability, the filmmakers have force-fed us Paul Walker. The guy sounds like Keanu Reeves, but, next to him, the Stiff One has the range and panache of Sir Anthony Hopkins.

So, cut to the chase, you say… And that's precisely the problem. 2 Fast 2 Furious is basically one unending chase with occasional pauses for bad dialogue, tissue paper thin character development, and an occasional shot of a woman in a bikini. (As expected with a PG-13 movie, the T&A quotient is so low that it's hardly worth mentioning.) The car chases in The Fast and the Furious were, well, fast and furious. They had style. They got the adrenaline pumping. In contrast, the ones here are boooooooooring. The Indianapolis 500 – with cars going around and around in circles – has more action, excitement, and suspense (and you don't know from the beginning who's going to win). Director John Singleton must have studied how to drain all the energy from a chase/race before embarking upon this project. Plus, he tries to spice things up by showing us lots of close-ups of feet, hands, and eyes (rather than following the actual races), but all that does is get us wondering about the fleck of loose makeup on Walker's left lid.

I believe there is supposed to be a plot. I say "believe" because every once in a while, there's a break in the so-called action so a character can speak a few lines of expository dialogue. I spent most of the movie utterly confused, primarily because I was trying to use my brain to figure out what was transpiring. I believe it is necessary to become catatonic in order to cut through the guano that director John Singleton and screenwriters Michael Brandt & Derek Haas have piled on.

This is about the best summary I can generate. Brian O'Connor (Walker) is back. He's not a cop any more, but that doesn't stop a bunch of Feds from getting him to work undercover. So, in order not to be alone (the filmmakers, in a rare moment of lucidity, apparently realized that there was no way Walker would be able to carry the film on his own), he recruits an old buddy, Roman Pearce (Tyrese), who has a score to settle with Brian. The two of them infiltrate the evil empire of drug czar Carter Verone (Cole Hauser) by becoming his drivers. Already in place is an undercover cop, Monica Clemente (Eva Mendes), who is playing the part of Verone's mistress. Beyond that, things start getting murky. The ultimate point, I suppose, is for Brian and Roman to stay alive and deliver Verone to the cops. If they do this, their criminal records will be expunged and they will be free men.

The question "Who cares?" is a valid one, but a more pointed query might be "Who would spend money to see this movie?" The answer is "Anyone who doesn't pay attention to word of mouth." Admittedly, one never expects a film – even a sequel to a less-than-stellar first picture – to be this awful. One might have suspected that 2 Fast 2 Furious would be tepid and vapid, but not rancid. Anticipating quality from a summer blockbuster may be asking for too much, but is it driving too hard a bargain to hope for entertainment? Judging by 2 Fast 2 Furious, the answer is yes. This movie only takes a few minutes to crash and burn, but more than an hour and a half to realize it.

2 Fast 2 Furious (United States, 2003)

Run Time: 1:43
U.S. Release Date: 2003-06-06
MPAA Rating: "PG-13" (Violence, Profanity, Sexual Situations)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1