Usually when the star of a successful movie doesn’t come back for the sequel, alarm bells start to ring so when Vin Diesel’s walking mound of testosterone known to the world as Dominic Toretto drove off in his 10 second car to continue living his life a quarter mile at a time, we had every reason to believe that the Fast And Furious engine was idling already.
Of course history, countless follow ups and a goddamn ride at Universal Studios tell us that this never came to pass but until the fortunes of the franchise turned it was down to upgraded co-star Paul Walker flying solo and director John Singleton to keep things revving…
Paul Walker’s ex undercover cop Brian O’ Connor is on the outs from his old job thanks to the climax of the first movie (apparently the top brass of the LAPD don’t appreciate it when cops let their criminals go) and now makes ends meet street racing in Miami. Reeled back into the undercover game to help bring down a dead-eyed Kingpin (a magnificently souless Cole Hauser… where has HE gone?) O’ Connor convinces them to bring in childhood friend Roman Pierce whom resents him as he thinks Brian got him thrown in jail years earlier. As the two integrate into the criminal empire and re-bond through their constant bickering and one oneupmanship, they have to finish their mission while not getting killed or thrown back into jail by their dickish police handlers.
If the plot sounds like merely a bunch of Grand Theft Auto side missions cellotaped together to form a story, I can assure you it’s actually a very fun ride, fuelled chiefly by the scrappy back and forth of Brian and Roman’s friendship and actually goes a huge way to filling the very noticable Vin Diesel shaped hole the film tries hard to ignore.
While not as initially as effective as the original as glamorising the world of street racing, 2 Fast 2 Furious is more of a super-slick cops and robbers movie that marks it as the actual prototype of what the franchise would soon become. Need more proof? Big welcome to the world of Corona and barbecue to Ludacris (sporting an afro so big it gives his entire body the dimensions of a Funko Pop Vinyl) as tech-savvy genius Tej and Tyrese Gibson as Roman (whose mouth has a faster motor than any of the cars featured) who both became mainstays of the ever growing series: plus they both have winning chemistry with the unfeasibly likeable rudeness of the late Paul Walker.
And yet as stupidly fun as it all is, it all felt very tacked on at the time (imagine a sequel to Point Break where Keanu goes it alone to take down a crime boss by going undercover as a surfing drug courier… no wait, that actually sounds awesome) with the whole affair feeling like a massive step down for the director, the late John Singleton who once got an Oscar nomination for Boyz N The Hood at the grand old age of 24 to objectifying the tricked out cars, huge sound systems and “hot mamas” with almost porn film intensity – unless you’re Eva Mendes, but even then not by much.
And yet, put aside any snobbery (and if you can’t why on earth are you watching called 2 Fast 2 Furious in the first place) and the fact that the film goes full Dukes Of Hazard at the end and you have a fun, colourful, throwaway actioner that not only harkens to the carnage that eventually would take over the box office but is still one of the greatest (read: dumbest) titles for a sequel since Step Up 2: The Streets.