2001’s surprise summer hit “The Fast and the Furious” was, as I said at the time, “a loud, pointless movie, but it performs its loud pointlessness pretty well.” It was packed with hot cars, fast races, gorgeous women and barrels of male bravado.
Its sequel, the stupidly titled “2 Fast 2 Furious,” has the cars but only shows off their speed in a few scenes. The gorgeous women are few in number and receive little screen time. The male bravado is mostly limited to Paul Walker calling everyone “bro,” a term which, even with his lazy surfer-boy accent, Walker is unable to render in a convincing manner.
This film’s more of a buddy picture, taking the focus off street racing and onto traditional undercover-cop shenanigans — a disappointing step downward, in my opinion, as it betrays what simple vision the original film had.
Walker’s character, Brian O’Conner, was once a cop but handed in his shield after letting Vin Diesel get away in the first film. (Vin Diesel remains away, having been refused his $25 million asking price for the sequel.) Now Brian’s in Miami, street racing again, where he’s picked up by customs officials who will clear his record in exchange for his becoming a driver for drug smuggler Carter Verone (Cole Hauser), thus infiltrating the operation. (Carter, by the way, is your basic torture-happy Bond villain, at one point employing a rat, a bucket and a blow torch to extract compliance from a sweaty fat man.)
“The Fast and the Furious” (2001) B-
“2 Fast 2 Furious” (2003) C+
“The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” (2006) D+
“Fast & Furious” (2009) D+
“Fast Five” (2011) C+
“Furious 6” (2013) C
“Furious Seven” (2015) C+
“The Fate of the Furious” (2017) C
Brian agrees to the plan, on the condition he get to choose his partner. He selects Roman Pearce (Tyrese), an old buddy from California. The two reunite in Barstow, whereupon they immediately begin to punch one another and roll around in the dirt. That is more or less how things work in this movie.
Walker, a bland, ineffective actor, is evidently in a much more serious movie than Tyrese is. Tyrese, in the sort of role usually reserved for Chris Tucker, lives it up, enjoying his several funny lines and seeing the movie for the hammy good time that it is. Walker seems intent on quashing all possible elements of levity, his half-hearted over-use of the jocular word “bro” notwithstanding.
But then there are the driving scenes. Directed by John Singleton (“Boyz N the Hood”), these are highly visceral, tightly edited infusions of energy, raising the film’s enjoyability several notches. The camera movements are fluid, even as the intense speed causes everything within the frame to jitter. Between these exhilarating sequences and Tyrese’s easy-going performance, the film is almost worth seeing, “bro.”
C+ (1 hr., 48 min.; )