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Thursday, June 12, 2003 02:20 pm

Movie Review

2 Fast 2 Furious

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2 Fast 2 Furious

2 Fast 2 Furious

A more apt title for Universal's sequel to its surprise 2001 hit The Fast and the Furious, would be 2 Stupid 2 Boring. Director John Singleton and his screenwriters jettisoned everything that was interesting and exciting about the original, replacing them with, well, nothing really. Perhaps Singleton believes in doing things the hard way.

TFATF was no work of art. But it understood its B-picture pedigree, riding on the heels of Vin Diesel's star-making presence and a pair of well-crafted chase scenes. Diesel isn't around for the sequel and neither are the chase scenes. This movie has plenty of sequences that resemble car chases, but they are about as exciting as the 1980s video game Pole Position. There are basic directorial rules that need to be followed when shooting a car chase, and Singleton ignores them all. Establish the physical setting, shoot lots of medium and wide shots so we can see the cars in relationship to one another, film real cars driving at actual speeds to lend the action a much-needed verisimilitude . . . I swear, this movie has more shots of hands shifting gears than metal smashing into metal.

The plot resembles that of 1970s Good Ol' Boy movies, where a hotshot driver would haul moonshine over Georgia back roads with a corrupt sheriff in pursuit. Ex-cop Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker, reprising his role) and his childhood pal Roman Pearce (model Tyrese) are recruited by a U.S. Customs agent (a welcome James Remar) to go undercover as drivers for drug kingpin Carter Verone (the waxen Cole Hauser). Their contact is a voluptuous agent named Monica Clemente (Eva Mendes), who is undercover--and presumably under the covers--as Verone's aide-de-camp. After all the tests of will, macho posturing, bickering and double-crosses, the plot boils down to an unlikely assignment: the boys must pick up some drug money and drive as fast as they can in very flashy foreign sports cars to a delivery point on a waterfront. Personally, I would do what they used to do in the Good Ol' Boy movies, which was to drive the speed limit so as not to attract undue attention. But then the screenwriters would have to work even harder to create a believable chase scene.

The plot is extremely stupid and the young performers are either stiff or unconvincing. But you could argue that no one is paying seven bucks for that anyway. Then what are we paying for? The action? Singleton's botching of the chases removes any reason to watch this movie.

(Running time 1:40, rated PG-13)
Grade D+

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