2 Fast 2 Furious.
Still on the run after letting Dom go back in Los Angeles, Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker) is making a name for himself as a street racer in Miami. He's gotten into trouble now and is back on the radar of several different law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and U.S. Customs. If Brian takes on a dangerous assignment for both the FBI and Customs, his record will be wiped clean. The assignment? Help put together a case against smuggler and Argentinian drug lord, Carter Verone (Cole Hauser). With authorities closing in on his circle, Verone needs drivers to help transport piles of drug money under the cops' noses. Brian needs help if he's going to pull off the job and get out alive. He seeks out a childhood friend who's he fallen out with, an ex-con and skilled driver, Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson). Can they pull the job off?
Okay, let's get this out of the way. I love the Fast and Furious franchise. Always have. Always will. So all that said, this ain't a good movie -- by a long shot -- but I love it just the same. Of all the movies, this is probably the guiltiest pleasure. How many movies can you hear Paul Walker say 'Forget about it, cuz.'? It tries to be incredibly hip and street and just so cool. Seriously, try a drinking game where anyone says 'cuz' or 'brah.' You'll be drunk for days.
Building on the surprise success of the first Fast/Furious movie two years earlier, '2 Fast' doesn't mess too much with the winning formula. Director John Singleton knows not to bite the hand that feeds so keep things simple. That formula? Some supremely cool cars from street and drag racers to some throwback classics, or as Brian and Roman say several times 'American muscle,' some cool characters and lots of scantily clad ladies all over the place. It ain't rocket science so don't overthink it, right? The races are edited in crazy, hyper fashion as the cars fly by, the soundtrack is littered with some then timely rap and hip-hop songs, and everything is easily digested in 107 minutes. You realize how far the movies have come since these early entries, a roguish, cheap quality that rises up to be pretty entertaining.
Otherwise occupied filming XXX, Vin Diesel -- star of the first Fast/Furious with Walker -- was unable to participate in this first sequel. The winners of that decision/unavailability? Paul Walker and Tyrese Gibson. A whole bunch of 'brahs' and 'cuz' lines aside, the biggest appeal of '2 Fast' is the Walker and Gibson pairing. Any screen they're in together, it plays like two friends hanging out and talking. It doesn't feel forced in the least. The character backstory provides some fun fireworks too, the duo growing up close friends but having a falling out when Brian decides to become a police officer. Just the same way Diesel and Walker played off each other so well in that brotherly fashion, Walker and Gibson do the same. You're rooting for them, two talented drivers backed into a less than ideal situation with all sorts of outside forces closing in on them.
Who else to look for? Walker is the only main cast member to make the jump from the original to the sequel so we've got some fresh meat! I've always liked Cole Hauser (wish he was in more movies), and he's having some fun as Verone, clearly doing some sort of slightly subdued Tony Montana impression. Eva Mendes sexes it up as Monica Fuentes, the deep undercover agent working to take Verone down, and flirting some with Brian in the process. Also joining the franchise is Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges as Tej, a do-it-all race organizer and mechanic while model Devon Aoki plays Suki, the designated sexy female driver. Thom Barry does reprise his role as Bilkins, FBI agent extraordinaire while James Remar plays the cantankerous Agent Markham, always mad at somebody. Also look for Michael Ealy as Amaury Nolasco as rival street racers.
Want some more in-depth analysis? Yeah, I didn't think so. If you like these movies, even this type of movies, you're going to enjoy this sequel. I've recommended to moviegoers that it's worth it to stick with the franchise because it has gotten significantly better, especially most recently with Fast Five and Fast and Furious 6. Those are great fun movies, pure entertainment, but these are pretty cool too. Also worth watching? A short film made with Walker showing how Brian ends up in Miami after the finale of the first movie. Check it out HERE.
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003): ***/****