2 Fast 2 Furious

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The two years since The Fast and the Furious have been pretty good to ex-undercover cop Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker), who has run from being on the job in LA to a lucrative, laid-back life in Miami racing for dollars. He chills with Ludacris (a slight upgrade from Ja Rule) — who has changed his name to Tej for the purposes of fiction — and dumps all his money into his vehicles. When 2 Fast 2 Furious begins, Brian looks confident and carefree, a far cry from where we last left him, voluntarily letting Vin Diesel’s trail grow cold and watching his street-legal life disappear in a haze of nitro-boosted exhaust.

But what’s life for a racer if it’s predictable? A snoozefest, no doubt. Brian is rerecruited to the force with a temp job: Take down overtanned, mannequin-fake drug lord Carter Verone and walk away with a clean record and conscience. These gigs that Brian gets ain’t bad, what with the rice rockets on the government dime and all. Naturally, he can’t resist, and he can’t resist putting conditions on his work contract — namely, he needs a partner, and that partner absolutely, positively must be his childhood BFF, Roman Pearce (Tyrese), who is on an electronic tether clear across the country in Barstow.

But wait! What’s this? Brian and Roman had a falling out years ago? Roman hates Brian and blames him for his incarceration? Oh, the pathos! Oh, the torment! Screw the cars – let’s just watch Brian and Roman get in touch with their feelings. Maybe they’ll even screw each other as a bonus.

With an eye on the bottom line, 2 Fast is rated a box office-friendly PG-13, just
like its predecessor. This means, of course, that once again the on-screen T&A is nothing but a tease. In fact, Brian doesn’t even get laid by the token vixen, a customs agent. How is this possible in a movie about hot cars? Chicks dig cars. Everybody knows this. Brian must be the only celibate male on the planet with a nitrous tank in his trunk.

The Fast and the Furious, while not exactly a work of art, was at least artful in its entertainment. 2 Fast 2 Furious straddles the line between good bad movie and bad bad movie for a short while, but its success at this doesn’t last long. By the time Cole Hauser shows up as Verone and opens his mouth to reveal that he’s had voice-box-modulation surgery to permanently set his pitch at the menacing-deadpan, Willem Dafoe level and starts spouting dialogue just short of a straight reading of “say hello to my leetle friend,” the game has long been over.

Fast was good times with great action and unbelievable rides. 2 Fast is too much, and that isn’t enough.

Erin Podolsky writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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