Racing Movie Month: "2 Fast 2 Furious" Review

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

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Rating: PG-13
Length: 107 minutes
Release Date: June 6, 2003
Directed by: John Singleton
Genre: Action / Crime / Thriller

"2 Fast 2 Furious" is the first sequel to 2001's hit racing film "The Fast and the Furious." Paul Walker reprises his role as Brian O'Conner, a former undercover cop whose racing skills once came in handy for busting speed-loving bad guys. Tyrese Gibson joins Walker as O'Conner's childhood friend, Roman Pearce. John Singleton directs the film.

In this sequel, O'Conner is no longer an officer of the law. He lost his badge by allowing his mark, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel), to escape in the first film. Without a law enforcement career to his credit, O'Conner is at the Feds' mercy when they come knocking at his door about some youthful indiscretions. Federal U.S. Customs agents Markham (James Remar) and Bilkins (Thom Barry) offer him the opportunity to work off his debt to society by helping them with a special assignment. Before agreeing to do the job, O'Conner requires that the Feds allow Pearce (who has a criminal record of his own) to team up with him — with the stipulation that completing the assignment will result in clean records for both of them. Pearce, a demolition derby driver, takes awhile to warm back up to his former friend, whose past transgressions had landed Pearce in jail for three years. Ultimately, though, he agrees to help.

O'Conner and Pearce are tasked with bringing down Carter Verone (Cole Hauser), an Argentinean drug dealer with an operations base in Miami. Although Federal agent Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes) is already on the case, she has had no luck pinning Verone with anything other than illegal street racing. O'Conner and Pearce audition for spots in Verone's racing ring and easily make the team. Fuentes continues to pose as Verone's girlfriend and works the case with O'Conner and Pearce's help.

Throughout the film, O'Conner and Pearce embark on a number of dangerous missions. When they are not getting into fistfights with antagonists, they are making drug pick-ups and drop-offs for Verone, driving at top speeds to avoid getting caught. All of this, of course, results in some pretty thrilling car rides. The automotive action does not disappoint, delivering the excitement viewers expect from the popular franchise. Sexy, souped-up hot rods burn up Miami's streets in a series of skilfully shot, high-stakes car chases.

Walker's O'Conner is calm and cool under pressure. He brings a laid-back chill that sells O'Conner as a likable and capable protagonist. His clean-cut, boyish demeanor stands in stark contrast to the film's tough-edged criminals, a quality that immediately makes him worth rooting for. He is a little more snarky and less edgy in this film than in the first, which decreases some of the tension and gives this movie a more easygoing vibe.

Gibson's charisma and winning smile light up the screen, and his portrayal of Pearce adds a burst of personality and energy to the film. He provides refreshing comic relief that cuts through the gravity of crooked cops, murder plots and Miami's seedy underbelly. He excels at delivering   sharp one-liners. Together, Walker and Gibson make a successful duo as ex-cop and ex-con, and their chemistry is a vital ingredient to the film's success.

John Singleton, who also directed Tyrese Gibson in 2001's "Baby Boy," handles actions scenes and other material with a deft hand. He tells the story without getting bogged down with too many details. Instead, he focuses his attention on the meat and potatoes of the film — slick cars moving at mind-bending speeds.

Singleton pulls no punches when it comes to the drag racing sequences. Where the first film depicted relatively modest, side-by-side races, "2 Fast 2 Furious" showcases bumper-to-bumper, NASCAR-style racing. There is enough fender rubbing, skid marking, near misses and explosive crashes to excite anyone with a pulse. The film's high production values make for riveting sights and sounds that pull viewers right into the scene, causing them to buy into the story and keep up with the film's intensity. The action does not let up until the movie ends with one final, gravity-defying car stunt and a very satisfying payoff for O'Conner and Pearce.

Overall, "2 Fast 2 Furious" is a high-octane thrill ride that combines all the best elements of the racing genre. It is glamorous and showy, arresting the audiences' attention and not letting go until the film's final shot. The majority of fans who enjoyed the first film will appreciate this one as well. It definitely has a place in the film collection of every rev head and car enthusiast.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5