“… manages to improve on the first film on many fronts, but unfortunately it does so at the cost of high-octane action.”
The Fast and Furious franchise continues with the second installment, 2 Fast 2 Furious. Not only does 2 Fast 2 Furious continue the story of characters that we know and love, but it also gives us a taste of the brilliant naming conventions used throughout the Fast and the Furious franchise. 2 Fast 2 Furious follows Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), now a former police officer, who is brought back into law enforcement as an undercover agent. His target is a bad guy whose name is not important; what is important is that Brian is going to have to be not only fast, but also furious. With the help of many newly introduced characters, Brian has to decide where his loyalty lies and also who he can trust.
Now since 2 Fast 2 Furious is the sequel to the ht film The Fast and the Furious, I think it is only fair that I compare them so that I have a jumping-off point for my review. From a film standpoint 2 Fast 2 Furious wins big time. Where the first film had very little story, and what story it did have was very poorly written, 2 Fast 2 Furious offers an engaging plot that is (as far as I can tell) original. Where The Fast and the Furious could be compared to Point Break, 2 Fast 2 Furious stands more on it’s own; I guess you could compare it to something like The Transporter, but that’s a bit of a stretch if I’m being honest. Now the inclusion of an actual story was a nice touch, but does that mean that 2 Fast 2 Furious is a better movie than its predecessor? I wouldn’t go that far. See, even though The Fast and the Furious was lacking in the story department, it made up for it with the action scenes. 2 Fast 2 Furious, having a story, took it light on the action scenes which really makes the two movies more comparable than I originally thought. 2 Fast 2 Furious wasn’t a boring movie by any means, but I did find it slow. There were a lot of moments in the film where nothing was really happening, and the movie was being dragged along either by plot revelations or character interaction. Like I said this isn’t a bad thing, but 2 Fast 2 Furious is definitely less high-octane than The Fast and the Furious. One thing I really do appreciate is that the filmmakers were able to step back from the character of Dominic Toretto, leaving the film to focus on a lot of new characters. It would have been easy for them to bring back the same old characters and put them in a new situation, but instead they decided to expand (although I use that term lightly) on the character of Brian and also introduce some fresh meat; and let me tell you, these new characters are what made the movie. I mentioned in my last review that the performances in The Fast and the Furious leave a lot to be desired, and the same goes for 2 Fast 2 Furious; at least with the veteran cast. The inclusion of these new characters allowed the filmmakers to bring in actual actors who can actually make me feel something. Of course you still have Paul Walker there to add almost nothing to every scene that he’s in, but you also have Tyrese Gibson playing newcomer Roman Pearce who absolutely steals the show. On top of Tyrese you have the inclusion of Ludacris who was surprisingly good for someone whose focus was on music for the most part, and also quite a few others who were able to hold their own. Some of you may have expected me to praise Eva Mendes, and while I like quite a lot of her work, it’s hard to deny that she was as charismatic as a wet blanket in her role in 2 Fast 2 Furious. Seriously, the scenes in which she shares little romantic moments with Paul Walker were about as interesting as watching paint dry. You would have been better off letting their stunt-doubles stand in for all of these scenes, or even just printing off pictures of the two of them and gluing them to popsicle sticks.
Another complaint I had about The Fast and the Furious was the fact that the film looked so dated. Everything from the set and costume design, all the way to the CGI displays were very 2000’s, and that kept taking me out of the movie. Luckily 2 Fast 2 Furious improves upon this aspect in many ways. Although the music choices are still pretty dated the overall feel of the movie isn’t, and part of the reason why is because of it’s style. The Fast and the Furious was trying to go for a realistic feel, but 2 Fast 2 Furious understands that it is a fun action movie and it decides to be a bit more laid back. 2 Fast 2 Furious takes the subject of crime and street racing and makes it hyper-stylized. The vibrant colours, the way things are shot, they all make the film feel almost dreamlike at times. Because of this, any and all CGI hiccups are almost invisible. Sure it still looks like they are going through a wormhole whenever they use NOS, but the vibrant colours don’t stand out as much because the rest of the movie looks almost identical. Sure the shots where we get a peek inside the engine still look like shit, but the way they are presented make me think that it wasn’t meant to be serious. 2 Fast 2 Furious managed to take a film like The Fast and the Furious and completely change the feel while still maintaining a similar plot. The setting of the film only helps to outline these outrageous colour pallets because in Miami everyone dresses like they are from the 70’s. All of these factors come together and form this almost surreal experience that the first film was never able to capture. And I know that I mentioned that 2 Fast 2 Furious didn’t have the same level of action as the first film, but I want to point out that there were still come pretty cool action scenes. 2 Fast 2 Furious focuses more on driving than the first film but we still get quite a few moments of wonderful practical effects. The only thing is that the action on 2 Fast 2 Furious was a lot more tame than in the first film, but luckily the story and the performances were there to pick up the slack.
Overall 2 Fast 2 Furious is a great action movie. It manages to improve on the first film on many fronts, but unfortunately it does so at the cost of high-octane action. The film was a little slow at times I will admit, but it was never boring; it just changed focus from cool car stunts to witty dialogue and an actual story.
I give 2 Fast 2 Furious a B