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'2 Fast 2 Furious' 6-ceeds at What it Aims 4

By Jeremy Mathews

These cars may or may not have appeared in the original "The Fast and the Furious," but we think it's just Paul Walker.

“2 Fast 2 Furious”
Universal Pictures
Directed by John Singleton
Written by Michael Brandt, Derek Haas and Gary Scott Thompson
Produced by Neal H. Moritz
Starring Paul Walker, Tyrese, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser, Ludacris, Thom Barry, James Remar
Rated PG-13
(out of four)

“Drugs, murderers and crooked cops. I was made for this!” So says a character in “2 Fast 2 Furious,” apparently believing that the film’s main draws, fast cars and scantily clad women, go without saying. And the film delivers exactly what is expected, with a nice sketch of the Miami street racing scene thrown in for good measure.

The film is a sequel—which makes the title slightly less idiotic than "Cradle 2 the Grave"—to the surprise 2001 hit "The Fast and the Furious," a B-movie about the underground racing scene in Los Angeles starring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker.

The new movie can only be called a sequel in that it has one of the same actors in it and the aforementioned cars and women. Diesel and the original writers and directors have all been replaced, but screenwriters Michael Brandt and Derek Haas are perfectly capable of coming up with a brainless plot while throwing in some good one-liners, and director John Singleton has a good time with the material.

Yes, this is the same John Singleton responsible for such thoughtful films as "Boyz in the Hood," and "Baby Boy," working below his intelligence level but allowing his eye for cinema to make some fun chase scenes sparkle with creativity.

The film opens as the hip Miami street racers block off the neighborhood with forged or stolen street signs for a high-stakes late-night race. One driver is missing, so Brian (Walker, reprising his role from the original film) fills in to earn some extra cash.

The race is what a quote in a movie ad might call a "high octane thrill ride." The racers, who have means of hearing one another, say things like "You ain’t passin’ me," and "Move, bitch!" while driving more than 100 miles per hour and occasionally using their nitro tanks to go even faster. There’s lots of gear shifting and stuff that didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I understood the fast cars part.

The final obstacle in the race, and the way our hero deals with it, may be completely preposterous, but it made me smile—I certainly hadn’t seen it before.

And again I smiled at the end of the film, when hundreds of other street racers participate in a good- will toward-strangers effort designed to ruin their vehicles and land them in jail. Ah, but if only every film that resembles a video game was so much fun!

Brian, who was the undercover cop who let Diesel go free in the first film, is now off the force, but has the opportunity to clear his record by participating in an undercover operation that requires super-fast driving. After all, Walker was a great undercover agent last time, wasn’t he?

He makes the cops let him choose his sidekick and he picks his estranged friend Roman, who also has a criminal record to purge. Tyrese (formerly Tyrese Gibson, but now just Tyrese) plays Roman with humor and charisma, even if it’s not as demanding as his work in “Baby Boy.”

The operation involves drug lord Carter Verone (Cole Hauser), who wants to move his dirty drug money across the border and figures the best method is to have people drive it around in flashy cars at three times the speed limit. It sure beats sneaking around.

So if you accept that only a fool looks for logic in a summer B movie and "buckle up for the high-octane thrill ride" (I’m getting good at this), Singleton will give you what you paid for and throw in some satire as well (note the paramedic’s work after the final chase). "2 Fast 2 Furious" beats its competition by going the extra mile. If a film’s going to be too fast and too furious to make any sense, it might as well be fast enough and furious enough to keep the audience grinning.