2 Fast 2 Furious
Rated PG-13, 94 min. Directed by John Singleton. Starring Paul Walker, Tyrese, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, James Remar, Devon Aoki.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., June 6, 2003
John Singleton’s sequel to last year’s sexy and entertaining street-racing mini-epic is awash in more Miami South Beach neon and carbon fiber fins than all the fish in Finding Nemo on a gill’s night out in Tokyo’s Ginza district. Purists will agree: Too much flash spoils the pan, and the EMS meatwagons already cornered the discos-on-wheels market ages ago. Still, the automotive stars of 2 Fast 2 Furious are wicked bits of pop-culture eye candy that end up being far more interesting than the film’s dull-as-Datsun, movie-of-the-week story or the irritatingly bad acting on display by virtually everyone on board, hip-hopper Ludacris excepted. A freshly domesticated Nissan Skyline GTR and the seething Mitsubishi EVO 7, driven by ex-cop-turned-racer Brian O’Conner (Walker) and pal Roman Pearce (Tyrese), are apparently the only things on Earth able to put an end to the career of wealthy South Florida crime lord Carter Verone (Hauser), so when O’Connor and Pearce are approached by the feds with an offer of expunged criminal records if they can help set up the Man, they jump at the chance and get to manhandle sweet, turbocharged rides for the rest of the film. Lucky them. The audience, however, has to sit through one of the most depressingly silly car flicks ever since Herbie Goes Bananas. Call it Formula One: The good guys are reformed toughies, the toughies are cardboard cut-outs with bizarre on/off Little Havana accents, the babes are busty (and shadow thin, and just sort of hanging around), and the cops, well, the cops are clueless and loud. (And I’m not talking about their wardrobe, either.) It’s purely by-the-numbers action filmmaking minus any sense of originality or even a serious commitment on the part of Singleton, who directs as though he were orchestrating a blind Shriners Fourth of July celebration inside a Mitsubishi dealership. Real-world road racers ought to be incensed that one of the great American underground anti-sports is getting such shabby treatment. Singleton and cinematographer Matthew E. Leonetti (who lensed a vastly superior American youth classic with Fast Times at Ridgemont High) shoot the speeding cars as though this were some sort of Hot Wheels commercial on acid – all speedy blurs and snaking taillights and zero sense of what’s going on or who’s doing whatever it might be. Dude, chill. The cars themselves are erotic icons that, properly shot, ought to arouse both the viewer’s artistic intellect and mechanical curiosity. These are sleek, dynamic machines worthy of the near-libidinous attentions their owners bestow on them, not this ham-fisted drool-a-thon and witless wipeout orgy. Where’s J.G. Ballard and David Cronenberg when you really need them? Far from here, of course, where they won’t have to concern themselves with Walker’s wooden one-note line readings or Remar’s shouty, Tuff Cop Inc. histrionics. Only Chris "Ludacris" Bridges’ appearance as garage- and monster Afro-owner Tej isn’t downright, well, ludicrous. Everyone else appears to be as befuddled by the script as I was, even sultry Storm model and sometime Versace girl Aoki, who, in a weak sop to the emerging feminization of street clubs (Right, guys?) plays overripe racer grrrl Suki with a cast-irony pout and enough Kandy Kolor® pink to sink a Hummer at a hundred yards. It’s all very nice to look at, sure, but pretty colors and molten intercoolers aside, 2 Fast 2 Furious is about as exciting as a Yugo in quicksand. (And no Subie WRX STi’s, to boot.)