2 Fast 2 Furious

2 Fast 2 Furious (12A)

Well at least they tried to do something interesting with the name of this obvious and predictable sequel: it could have been Faster and More Furious. Shame that the resulting flick is actually Slow and Mild.

Only one star – Paul Walker as anti-hero and ex-cop Brian O’Conner – returns for this second slice of testosterone; apparently Vin Diesel asked for too much lucre while feisty car chicks Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez perhaps recognised the shift in gears from B-movie sleeper smash to tired and vapid follow-up.

In this one O’Conner and fellow racer Roman Pearce (Tyrese, another rap star making the jump to movies) are recruited by Customs to bring down a villain and his goons. If they succeed by doing their thing – lots of high performance cars tearing up the streets, burning rubber and outrunning the local police department, blissfully unaware that our four-wheeled ruffians are working for the good guys – their criminal records will be expunged.

2 Fast 2 Furious is another predictable demolition derby in which a succession of flash cars are transformed into scrap, albeit with much less class and energy than in the film that spawned it. Instead there’s mucho macho posturing, a bevy of bikini-clad babes (to keep our attention on the excuse for a plot) and an array of late-night high-speed races through miraculously deserted Miami streets.

This is every 17-year-old boy racer’s wet dream: big cars, big engines, street talk, ghetto gear and the implication that, if the machinery is impressive enough, there’ll always be a stunning young woman willing to squeeze herself into your passenger seat.

Certainly Walker does little except grin a lot, stare intently into the middle distance a la Steve McQueen in Bullitt, and rely on his beach boy good looks. Tyrese, on the other hand, tries hard to convince as a bad boy looking for a loophole in the law. He gets the best line: “Guns, murderers and crooked cops… I was made for this!”

Perhaps the worst victim of this ill-conceived and dull sequel is Cole Hauser as cigar-chewing cartoon psychotic Carter Verone, chief villain and stereotypical nasty who strides through the proceedings with all the menace of Robin Cook. The cinematography, however, coupled with some neat camera effects, still manages to impress, at least temporarily.

The main problem with Furious 2 is that the script takes a quantum leap away from the original concept of streetracers battling the law. This one is less about streetracing and more about out-manoeuvring cops and other criminals who work on a much higher – read ‘nastier’ – level. And that’s all been seen and done before in pictures like Ronin, and The Transporter. With the story and its characters lifted from their milieu, it’s bound to disappoint. And it does.

This style of pulse-pounding demolition derby has been done years ago in Sam Peckinpah’s Convoy and John Landis’ The Blues Brothers. The biggest (and saddest) shock here is that this limp pic was directed by John Singleton who, once upon a time, was a serious filmmaker in the Spike Lee mould. Whatever is he thinking of…?

Star rating: **

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