By Smilin’ Jack Ruby

I don’t remember much about the plot of The Fast and the Furious. There were a bunch of crooks in cars, Vin Diesel walked around flexing his muscles, Paul Walker was completely overwhelmed by Diesel’s performance and the movie made a lot of noise. I loved it.

Street racing was never something I took part in (my cars growing up were A: a 1992 Ford Explorer and B: a 1976 Mercedes 240D [as in “diesel”] – not exactly hot racers), but it was a world I knew as my sister and her now-husband were heavily involved (her husband still races occasionally down in Baytown, Texas). I knew the dangers, too, as my sister put her lower jaw through the steering wheel of her Honda once doing it and spiderwebbed her windshield with her co-pilot’s forehead on the same trip. She also went through about half a dozen different cars in only a few year’s time. But, she loved it – still does – and I understood the whole nouveau gearhead thing.

But when I walked into 2 Fast 2 Furious, I was looking for a joke. Without Vin Diesel, how could they have a sequel? Outside the theater, I joked with Dan Goldwasser from Soundtrack.net about Paul Walker’s recent quotes to the press about how “if Universal wanted a third one” they’d have to “come to him” as he was only signed for two. Dan told me that in response to why he turned down Superman, he said, “I already have a franchise.” Heh. I heard it was because Brett Ratner got canned and everyone on the dais got kicked off. Also, Walker’s quickly getting a reputation for being an ass in H-wood. 2 Fast had all the earmarks of a “lesser sequel” – the real star hadn’t returned, Neal Moritz was involved and it had that ridiculous title.

When I left the theater two hours later – surrounded by teen kids raving, “That’s the best movie I’ve seen all year!” “I’ve GOT to get the DVD!” and “I can’t believe we got to see that for FREE!” – it was quite hilarious.

Who knew that 2 Fast 2 Furious would be not only entirely watchable, but also be just a big, dumb fun summer movie – EXACTLY like its predecessor? AND IT’S COMPLETELY DIFFERENT! 2 Fast 2 Furious is a buddy movie – like a bizarro post-modern Lethal Weapon or something with Paul Walker’s Brian O’Connor character teamed up with Tyrese’s Roman Pearce. Though I thought Paul Walker was pretty stilted at the beginning, he grew on me, but the real story is Tyrese. I didn’t love Baby Boy and, in fact, the movie remained in my head for about five seconds and that’s about it. Tyrese has come back and shown that, yes, he’s a movie star.

Mark my words – 2 Fast 2 Furious is about to “hit” and make a shitload of money. Why? The cars, silly.

My first words walking out of the theater were, “Fuck – it blows that John Frankenheimer isn’t alive to see where these people have taken his style of fast car filmmaking.”

And it does suck. In four different action sequences involving the cars, we see some of the best car stunt work since, well, The Fast and the Furious, but more than that – some of the best work since Halicki was making his psycho car stunt movies like Gone in Sixty Seconds (the original – not that sad joke of a Nic Cage remake) and The Junkman. The first one – a simple ten minute race between four cars – is explosive and exciting as all hell.

Who knew director John Singleton had this in him? Though Singleton’s had his high moments, I’ve never thought too much of the guy as a technical director. I interviewed him once and thought that he wasn’t the sharpest pencil in the drawer (something echoed by another director I interviewed once who went off the record on just how dumb he thought Singleton was, shockingly enough – not a bad filmmaker, just a really dumb individual. This about the youngest man ever nominated for Best Director at the Oscars). After Singleton’s big live action Sinbad project fell apart, I figured he just took the first paycheck he could find and landed on 2 Fast 2 Furious. Turns out that his slick approach to shooting the cars – an impossibly interesting bookend to Rob Cohen’s “muscle and steel” approach – was absolutely amazing to see on the big screen.

Oh yeah, there’s a plot to the movie, too. Sort of. I guess. Well, kind of.

Taking a note from any number of slick exploitation B-movies from the seventies, the plot is simple – there’s a big bad named Carter Verone (played with fun, silly young-James-Caan-esque menace by Cole Hauser) who has something to do with drug money, though that’s never really explained. James Remar plays a Customs Agent who wants to take him down and unwillingly accepts that the guy employs fast car racers to move money from Point A to Point B – every so often (as I said, the plot of this thing just REALLY doesn’t make much sense WHATSOEVER). Remar’s got a deep cover agent already working the case, Monica Clemente (played by the lovely Eva Mendes – who is, sadly, given nothing to do here). Brian and Roman’s job is to go in as street racer looked to be Verone’s hired guns and to try and connect dirty money to him.

Okay, straight up, that cobbling together I just did above of the plot is FAR more clear than in the movie itself. And it’s not a very good job o’cobbling. Get it through your head now if you’re going to go see this – There Is No Real Plot, Merely Excuses To Get The Guys Behind The Wheels Of Various Cars In Order To Showcase Racing. Got that? Good. Then you’ll enjoy the fuck out of the movie. Yes, chances are good that the complete absence of coherent plot will bug the shit out of people. Normally, it bugs the hell out of me. But with 2 Fast, the movie’s relentless pacing devoted solely to upping the action, getting a lot of hot chicks on screen and just having a genuine sense of fun really made me forgive the shit out of the plot stuff. That and the third act – virtually solid action leading up to one of the most ludicrous stunts you’ve ever not really seen done in a movie (it was obviously done in multiple shots, edited together and wasn’t ever really done, sadly enough) – is golden.

I’m about done as I’m picking back up this review which I started the day after I saw the movie and am now about to send in to Nick. I don’t remember that much about the film beyond the fact that, yes, I enjoyed it, there was a lot of fast racing, and who the fuck cares beyond that? If you’re looking for a fun summer action movie – 2 Fast 2 Furious actually delivers on the few promises it makes. There’s a lot of good car action. I’m hoping it is merely the appetizer for Bad Boys II, the other action sequel of the summer that looks like it might actually be a lot of fun in the theater.

2 Fast 2 Furious, hell, I recommend it. Great summer bullshit theater fun. Bet it plays on TNT from here until eternity.

7.5 out of 10