Hey film fans, Slick Dungeon here, back to review the second installment of the Fast and Furious franchise, 2 Fast 2 Furious. Paul Walker is back for this one but there is no Vin Diesel in sight here. But there is still plenty of action, lots of fast cars, a few good stunts and plot that is, well… pretty thin. Note there will be spoilers in this review for both The Fast and the Furious and 2 Fast 2 Furious. If you want to catch up and read my review of the first movie, you can do so here.
The Fast and the Furious set up a situation with Dom Toretto and Brian O’Conner which leaves Brian in trouble with the law and Dom presumably free. One would expect the sequel to try to continue those stories but there was a major problem in doing that for this movie. Vin Diesel was filming a different action movie xXx and couldn’t come back for 2 Fast 2 Furious without leaving that project. So, instead of having the two breakout stars of the first film come back, we only get Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner.
The good news is this second film does introduce us to some of the recurring cast we’ll see in later movies, including Roman Pearce played by Tyrese Gibson, Monica Fuentes played by Eva Mendes, and Tej Parker played by Ludacris.
The first film was better than it had any right to be, although it accomplished that in large part by borrowing a plot from an older movie. The sequel needed to be more action packed with bigger stunts and to keep the interest of people who saw the first one without one of the main stars.
So, did they accomplish this goal or was this a forgettable sequel? Let’s dig in and find out.
We’re Moving to Miami
This film starts with a street race in Miami, Florida. There are three cars ready and raring to go but the race can’t happen without even numbers so the organizer of the event, Tej Parker calls in a fourth driver. This is Brian O’Conner, the undercover cop who let a felon go at the end of the last film. Brian wins the race handily and earns himself some money. But just after that, the police show up and Brian tries to get away. He’s got a super fast car and he’s a highly skilled driver so it should be easy. However, the police have some kind of harpoon style weapon they shoot at his car. Once this hits, it seems to deliver a sort of EMP jolt to the car, cutting out the electronics and basically making the car stop. Brian is taken into custody.
This time the arrest is not a ruse, it seems Brian really is on the run from the law. Lucky for him, there are some people who can use his help. One of Brian’s former superiors, Agent Bilkins (Thom Barry) and a US Customs agent named Markham want to catch a drug lord named Carter Verone. They need someone who can gain the trust of Verone, while also not giving away the fact that there is an FBI agent named Monica Fuentes who has already been monitoring Verone. They try to give Brian a partner but after a simple question it’s clear this police officer knows nothing about cars. Brian demands to choose his own driving partner. This is Roman who we first see wearing an ankle bracelet while competing in a demolition derby.
Roman is an old friend of Brian’s who has gotten into some trouble. After a brief fight, Roman and Brian hash things out a bit and Roman agrees to help the police in exchange for his record being wiped clean. Brian will get the same deal so if they pull off the job, they won’t be going to jail.
Monica Fuentes arranges it so that Roman and Brian can audition to work for Verone. They arrive at the mansion along with a number of other street racers. Verone takes everyone’s identification and tells them his Ferrari was impounded. The job is to go retrieve something important from the car and come back with it first. There’s a chase scene where Brian and Roman both show off their fast driving skills and, of course, they get to the Ferrari first. I don’t really know how they knew how to get there since no one gave them directions but we’ll ignore that for the sake of the movie.
Anyway, just as Roman and Brian are about to take the package back, Markham shows up, hoping to arrest Verone. Roman sees the guy with a gun pulled and Roman starts firing his own gun. This was clearly not supposed to happen. Markham thought Brian and Roman were running when they were just doing what they were supposed to. Roman and Brian do get away from Markham and end up back at Verone’s place.
Verone is impressed enough to hire the two of them. But we find out the only thing they got from the car was a cigar. Also, Verone promises there will be a job for the two of them if they meet him at a club later. Monica lets Brian know Verone plans to smuggle money on his private jet from an airstrip nearby. Brian and Roman go back to police headquarters where Markham is beyond mad and Roman is furious the cops showed up at all. Turns out there were GPS units on the cars they were driving. This was back when GPS units were not all that common so it’s no surprise that Roman and Brian weren’t expecting that.
After they leave police headquarters, Roman and Brian realize they have a few problems here. First, Verone’s men seem to be following them around. Second, it’s going to be tough for them to get anything done if they are constantly being tracked by the police. So, what’s the solution? I mean, it’s a Fast and Furious movie so obviously a street race! Roman and Brian have a tag team race to get two more cars. The race it set up by Tej and it’s a pretty good race sequence. Ultimately, Brian and Roman succeed and have two cars, GPS free to use when they need them.
This whole time, Brian has been making puppy dog eyes at Monica which Roman notices. When they get to the club where they are supposed to meet Verone, Monica is there and seems to flirt back with Brian a bit. Verone sees this. Verone has Roman and Brian go in the back with him where he has an police detective tortured. He wants a fifteen minute window of time where there will be no cops monitoring him so he can gather his drug money.
Monica warns Roman and Brian that Verone plans to have them killed as soon as the job is over. Roman and Brian go see Tej and make some contingency plans of their own.
On the day of the job, things start as they are supposed to. Brian, Roman and two of Verone’s guys go to get some money out of a trailer Verone owns. The cop who was supposed to keep the area free for fifteen minutes lets his conscience get to him and he tells the cops to move in. This now means Brian and Roman are caught between the police and Verone’s men. There’s a nifty car chase as Brian and Roman misdirect everyone. They pull into a warehouse with cops in hot pursuit. They think they have the men surrounded when the warehouse doors open up and a bunch of big trucks come out and basically demolish the police cars. Then there is a scramble where what seems like every high end race car in Miami comes out of the warehouses and speed off in all directions. The cops think they still have GPS on the cars so they aren’t worried and Markham is in waiting at the airstrip. When the cars Brian and Roman were driving arrive at the airstrip, it’s Tej and his partner Suki who are driving.
Roman and Brian each have one of Verone’s men in the cars they won racing the night before. Roman hits an ejector seat button to dump the thug. Before Brian can do the same, Verone tells him the plan has changed. He now has to meet Verone at the docks. When Brian gets there Verone puts a gun to Monica’s head and takes her on the boat. Verone’s thug is supposed to kill Brian but before he can do so, Roman shows up to save the day. Verone does manage to get Monica onto the boat and they are already speeding away.
How does Brian stop Verone? Well, again it’s a Fast and Furious movie so he drives real fast, launches the car off a ramp facing the water and lands on the boat. It’s the biggest stunt in the movie. And when it happens, Roman breaks his arm and Brian is banged up quite a bit as well. This was before everyone in these movies seems to take no damage from major car crashes.
In the end, Roman and Brian are cleared, Verone is arrested (although he swears revenge), and Monica is safe and sound. Roman does pocket a bit of the cash from Verone’s take though. That’s where we leave our heroes for this movie but we’ll see more of them in the future.
What About Dom and Mia?
On top of Vin Diesel missing, since this film takes place in Miami with Brian on the run, there is no Mia from the first movie. I’ll say, Brian sure moves on quickly from her and seems to have roving eyes everywhere he goes. If Brian has a weakness in this movie, it’s definitely pretty women. I feel like the relationship with Mia not even being addressed in this movie was a mistake. Like, they could have at least had a phone call or something on Brian’s end where he might tell her not to worry or something like that. But nope, we’re going to pretend that whole thing didn’t count in the first movie here I guess. It makes sense why Dom isn’t here. He’s still back at home or maybe on the run. Brian probably wouldn’t want to call him because presumably everyone is watching Dom. But Mia has nothing to do with the whole thing so she’s getting ignored for no reason.
Did This Work at All?
2 Fast 2 Furious is not a great film. It’s miles away from the quality of the first movie. The dynamic between Diesel and Walker are missing and this film feels like it could literally be called something else. It’s got a fairly caricatured villain, the plot is really thin, and while the acting is fine, no one is going above and beyond here. That’s not to say there is nothing good in the movie. The car stunts are still fun, although I would argue the ones from the first film tend to look better. And Roman and Tej are both good additions to the franchise and probably the most entertaining parts of the whole movie. Eva Mendes is also great in her role here.
While the first movie was meant to be a B film that feels more like a quality picture, the second feels like a movie meant to be a quality picture which feels like a B film. On a pure action level, this film does work but it doesn’t obtain the greatness of the first one by any stretch of the imagination.
There are still a lot of films to go in this franchise. We’re going to witness a bunch of odd twists and turns here, especially once Vin Diesel is truly back. But the second movie just needed to be a half decent action flick. And it does deliver on being about half way decent. It did well enough to garner another sequel but if this film had come out first, the whole franchise would have been forgotten. It’s still one you need to watch if you want to be completely caught up with the franchise but just remember this one is meant to be nothing more than a good time.
I will say though, compared to some of the later sequels, this one does at least seem to adhere to the laws of physics for the most part.
Overall this is still an enjoyable watch but it might be the least enjoyable of the sequels.