Tuesday, February 16, 2010

2 Fast 2 Furious

When I watched The Fast and the Furious it took well over four hours to finish a movie that is only 106 minutes long. I’ve sat like sentinel through movies like Surf Nazis Must Die, Black Devil Doll From Hell, and countless other highly questionable films, but watching more than ten consecutive minutes of The Fast and the Furious was too painful to take, even for me.

So of course they made a sequel, 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious. (Actually they’ve made three sequels, so far.) You can tell it is going to be cool because they use the number 2 instead of the word Too.

Director John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood) and writers Michael Brandt and Derek Haas (who scribbled the updated 3:10 to Yuma and the A-Team remake) manage to avoid some of the pitfalls of the original, like bad writing, worse acting, and an idiotic story. How they get around these traps is really a stroke of genius, they just don’t include any of them in the movie.

No one goes to see 2 Fast 2 Furious for story or characters or any of those things most films rely on. No, people go to see movies like this to see cool cars drive fast. That’s it. The driving beat of the soundtrack, hunky studs, and girls in bikinis are just icing on the cake, but the cars take center stage.

2 Fast 2 Furious starts out with a car race (imagine that) that is essentially live-action anime. The camera zooms in and around what look like computer generated Matchbox cars, bright lights flash as the Miami cityscape flashes past, and one character even yells out, “Smack that ass,” as she jumps her pink convertible over a drawbridge. The scene is just absurd enough to be a lot of fun. Too bad the rest of the movie never lives up to this potential.

Paul Walker reprises his role as Brian O’Connor, now a disgraced cop, living underground in Miami, where he earns a living as the baddest street racer in town. But the FBI and US Customs need his help, since no one else can drive like him. He teams up with estranged childhood friend, Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson, reteaming with Baby Boy director Singleton), and sexy undercover Customs agent Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes), in order to take down the infamous, hard to catch, drug kingpin, Carter Verone (Cole Hauser, a natural redhead who looks really weird with his hair dyed black).

After the promise of the initial scene, the movie devolves into an action movie cliché. There are the stock vicious bad guy, corrupt cop, and even a federal agent who doesn’t like the way these renegades make up their own rules as they go along. As you can imagine, he is against this whole damn thing and spends most of his screen time scowling.

Thankfully there is not much of a script, which leads to mercifully few attempts at actual acting, since none of the cast is particularly skilled at doing anything but look pretty. The less opportunities for these actors to prove they can’t act, the better. And of the script that is there, every third line is, “I got you.” Seriously, you could make a drinking game out of it and be pretty wasted by the end. But like I said, there isn’t a lot of time wasted on things like story and character. Here the elements of film serve one purpose, and that purpose is to get to the chase scenes as quickly as possible.

Too bad that none of the action sequences are nearly as much fun as the first one, and the movie becomes boring and hackneyed, though admittedly more watchable than the first. Instead of spending ninety minutes watching all of 2 Fast 2 Furious, watch the first scene, try not to have a seizure, turn the movie off, and go on about your business.

Mostly this movie made me want to watch a movie like Bullit, The French Connection, or Two-Lane Blacktop, something that not only has great car chases, but also things like story.

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