Director: John Singleton
Key Cast: Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Eva Mendez,
Five Point Summary:
1. Cars! And Cars! And more cars! Oh my!
2. Glorious Miami sunshine
3. Wisecracks and a knowing sense of silliness.
4. Paul Walker’s lovely yet off-putting bleached blonde hair.
5. An actual story!
My quest to watch the first 5 Fast and Furious movies in one weekend (or one weekend and the Monday night) continues with 2 Fast 2 Furious. This second entry felt more rounded in terms of story, but suffered from only focusing on Paul Walker rather than the ensemble of the original. With that in mind, however, it’s also great fun just for being so ridiculously silly. Walker’s O’Connor is finally caught by the police and is given a choice: to go to prison for his crimes or to go undercover again and help them take down a criminal overlord who, somewhat amazingly, needs skilled drivers to pull off a caper. I get the impression that all of the ‘Fast’ films are set in an alternate universe where drivers and/or driving in general are more important than hired help, gun fights or any other of the standard criminal underworld tropes. For that I suppose the series should be commended. Yeah okay there are guns, but they’re always secondary to the “get to this location before the other guys” that permeates the series. On that note, surely doing a basic CRB check on random guys who you’ve never met before would make sense before letting them come work for you. Too obvious? Hmm.
The CGI was more noticeable to me this second spin around the streets, but the cars themselves look amazeballs, so I think the standard ‘Fast’ fan will be more interested in that rather than how artificial the background looks. There’s the obligatory glut of street races and daft twists to said races, but we’ve got a proper story this time round, even if it is a complete throwback to the action movies of the 80s. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I might add. My one gripe is the conceit that O’Connor will only drive if one of his old friends is his partner for the job. Surely the police in the real world would balk at the idea? This again supports my theory that drivers are the only thing that matters in the ‘Fast’ universe.
I honestly can’t rate the movie any lower or higher than the first – it had its good and bad points both in comparison to the first film and when considered as a standalone movie. You don’t need to have seen the first in order to understand what’s going on, much more of O’Connor’s history is covered in this entry. And what’s going on with his hair? I know he’s supposed to be operating outside of the law and everything, but did he really need to pander to the fashions of 2003 and bleach his hair, looking about 17 years old in the process? Yes, is apparently the answer. There’s a great scene with what seems like hundreds of cars emerging from a garage in an effort to distract the swooping police, and it’s stuff like this that make the film worth seeing. Simple idea, yet effective.
The villain, ably played by Cole Hauser, is about as cardboard cutout as they get, but he has a subtle air of menace to him that creates a decent sense of threat (as it happens, he also shows up later in Die Hard 5 and Olympus Has Fallen. I’m sensing a pattern). There was a slight problem in that I kept confusing him with one of the henchman, so I was never sure if it was the Big Bad doing the dirty work or if it was only the henchman. I’m pretty sure if I watched this again I would still confuse the two.
And finally – Eva Mendes. I suppose she’s in the mix to represent a “strong female character (TM)”, however she doesn’t get to do much apart from skulk around in the background being an undercover spy and acting, naturally, as a former/current love interest for Paul Walker. Before you can say “cliche!” she’s solidly in damsel in distress mode. Yawn.
Favourite scene: Attacking a boat with a car. And winning.
Quote: “Whoa, fellas, fellas. I know my tags are outta date, but damn.”
Silly Moment: Exactly the same as my favourite scene – with seemingly no other options available to them, and the life of Monica Fuentes in the balance, O’Connor does the only sensible thing – he drives his car up a ramp, at top speed, and lands smack bang on top of the moving boat. Incredibly silly but it’s fun at the same time. It might even be one of the inspirations for John McClane taking out a helicopter in a similar fashion in Die Hard 4.0.