Fast 2 Furious
One knows there is something sly and interesting going on in this film from the first appearances of the main characters.
Brian (Paul Walker) is the gormless hero from The Fast and the Furious (2001). He just pops up in the middle of a big, street scene that is teeming with colour and detail.
But when we reach Roman (Tyrese), he receives a stage entrance worthy of Mad Max – seen from the back, then his hands, then just a flash of his face as he smashes up cars.
It is easy to tell whom director John Singleton (Shaft, 2000) likes better. And this sets the pattern for 2 Fast 2 Furious, a film in which small, embroidered details like these are usually more compelling and inventive than the main lines of the action plot.
As in the previous film, the story revolves around an undercover case. Brian and Roman must win the trust of the master criminal Carter (Cole Hauser), with the help of Monica (Eva Mendes) on the inside.
For a while it seems as if we are headed for an intrigue reminiscent of Hitchcock's Notorious (1946), with Monica having to virtually prostitute herself for her country, with the lovestruck, tormented Brian looking on helplessly.
But this is a film which does not care terribly much about personal relationships. What matters are the cars and the details of car culture, more lovingly observed and recreated than in The Fast and the Furious.
Singleton also has a lot of fun with secondary characters such as the feisty Suki (Devon Aoki), even if her role as scripted gives her precious little to do.
The one area in which Singleton plays perfectly by the rules of his given genre is the chase scenes, which are extremely thrilling and well orchestrated. In an odd bonus during the final credits, the film even gives us a wholly animated car chase sequence, which manages to be almost as exciting as the supposedly real thing.
MORE Singleton: Poetic Justice
© Adrian Martin June 2003