Welcome back to “Better Late Than Never” Movie Reviews where I go back in movie history and check out a movie that I missed the first time around. Today we’re checking out “2 Fast 2 Furious”, the second entry in the “Fast and Furious” franchise and the movie that kicks off it’s incredibly annoying naming convention!
Is “2 Fast 2 Furious” one of those rare sequels that surpasses the original? Is it an awful retread (HA car puns) of the same story? Where did almost the entire cast go?
I had some trepidation about “2 Fast 2 Furious” because I knew that Paul Walker was the only main cast member returning from “The Fast and the Furious” and that sends up red flags for any sequel. However after seeing it, I found my fears about the new cast, and the movie in general, to be unwarranted.
Let’s start with Tyrese Gibson’s Roman Pearce, who is, on paper anyway, the “replacement” for Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto. Roman is billed as a childhood friend of Brian’s, however after meeting Roman, we soon learn that he and Brian had a falling out. It seems that while Brian was a rookie cop, Roman was arrested and ended up in jail for three years, and now blames Brian for what happened. Over the course of the movie we learn that Roman was busted with some illegal car parts and there was nothing Brian could have done at the time, since he was not a part of the raid that got Roman arrested in the first place. We also learn that it was Brian’s helplessness in that situation that lead him to let Dom go free in the previous movie, that by letting Dom go, he was able to forgive himself for what happened to Roman. It’s bit guilty of retro-active story telling but I like it enough to give it a pass.
As I said in my review of “The Fast and the Furious”, I’d always heard that family is a central theme in the franchise and it is on full display here. Tyrese Gibson and Paul Walker have an instant chemistry together and you truly believe that they were friends as kids. At times, their relationship feels like something you would find in a buddy cop film and that feeling of camaraderie and friendship adds something that was missing before and makes the movie, as a whole, a lot more fun.
Other new characters introduced are Customs Agent Monica Fuentes played by Eva Mendes, garage owner and race organizer Tej played oddly well by Ludacris, drug lord Carter Verone played by Cole Hauser, racer Suki played by Devon Aoki, and Customs Agent Markham played by James Remar. Eva Mendes is serviceable as Agent Fuentes, there’s not a lot to her character besides the question of whether or not she has been flipped while under cover, a plot point that is never really brought to fruition. Ludacris was a nice surprise and I am looking forward to see more of his character in future films. James Remar is a great character actor and plays the overzealous agent bit well. Fellow racer Suki had some good lines in the opening racing scene but ultimately her character didn’t amount to much more than window dressing.
The plot of “2 Fast 2 Furious” also comes together a lot better than the plot of it’s predecessor which felt disjointed at times and unsure of what it really wanted to be – a cop movie, a racing movie, or a romance movie. From the outset, “2 Fast 2 Furious has a much more focused plot and weaves all its story points together into a much tighter whole. Also, while “The Fast and the Furious” suffered from not having a central villain to root against, “2 Fast 2 Furious” has a clearly defined villain in Cole Hauser’s Carter Verone who establishes himself as an evil and sadistic man. It could be argued that the motorcycle gang was meant to be the main villain in “The Fast and the Furious” but I see them more as the bait in the bait-and-switch that movie pulled on the audience and the hijacking crew lead by Dom never really felt like “the bad guys”.
I also really appreciated the fact that Brian is no longer a cop due to the events of “The Fast and the Furious”. It’s always nice to see a character’s choices come with realistic consequences. This also gives Brian extra motivation in this movie because if he helps Customs bring down Verone, his record will be expunged and he can lead something of a normal life again.
I do have some issues with this movie and I think they mostly stem from direction. There are a number of lines that are delivered flatter than a thin crust pizza and they aren’t limited to just one actor so that leads me to believe they didn’t have the greatest director. There are also some oddly framed shots, which again comes down to directing. Most of these issues are localized in outside of the action sequences, which are pretty damn good, so it’s easy to forgive some stiff dialogue in exchange for all the action set pieces.
On the whole, I like this movie better than it’s predecessor. Overall, “2 Fast 2 Furious” lost some of the self seriousness that “The Fast and the Furious” had, presented a cleaner, simpler plot, let itself have more fun, and is a better movie because of it.
-What about you? Did you like the sequel more than the original? Let me know in the comments below!
-Stay tuned for my review of “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”, otherwise know as “The One Everyone Told Me To Skip”! I’m looking forward (?) to checking that one out soon!
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Thank you for reading and…..
SEE YOU AT THE CINEMA!