2 Fast 2 Furious
Film Length: 108 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
Subtitles: English (Captioned), French, and Spanish
Audio: English - Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish – Dolby Digital 5.1; French – Dolby Digital 5.1
There really is not a whole lot to 2 Fast 2 Furious. In general, it follows the same recipe that helped the original race home with a heap of cash: mix together a few tricked-out cars, stir in some equally hot women/men (acting ability not required), sprinkle with insane driving stunts, and finally, fold in a plot (any one will do) and let simmer. Still, like romantic comedies, movies like this rely heavily on the execution of ideas, not the freshness of the ideas themselves, to succeed, and 2 Fast 2 Furious is certainly executed well enough to entertain its target audience.
I know a lot of people were worried that the absence of Vin Diesel would undermine the effectiveness of 2 Fast 2 Furious. While I expect to get some heat for this, I must say that I did not care too much for Vin Diesel’s character, or performance, in The Fast and the Furious, so I did not miss his presence in this sequel. Yes, Paul Walker is still one of the worst actors around, but Tyrese Gibson does a damn good job of replacing Vin Diesel, who reportedly wanted a ton of cash to reprise his role. Further, Tyrese adds a lot of energy and character to the film, and the chemistry between him and Paul Walker is good enough to overshadow Walker’s shortcomings. The stylish direction by John Singleton also adds the requisite tension to the racing/stunt driving scenes to make them exciting, despite the fact that they are much longer than in the first film. Sure, both of the films in the series border on the ridiculous, but for the reasons outlined above I actually enjoyed 2 Fast 2 Furious more than its predecessor.
Jumping into the story, in 2 Fast 2 Furious we rejoin Brian O’ Connor (Paul Walker), now a former undercover cop, in Miami, Florida. It turns out that Brian is living in exile for letting a fugitive (played by Vin Diesel) go in the first movie, and he is now surviving by taking part in illegal street races. Unfortunately for Brian, early in the film, the police move in after a race and he is apprehended. Once the cops discover who Brian is, they offer him a deal. Specifically, he is to take part in a sting operation being planned by U.S. Customs agents. Apparently, the feds are hot on the trail of a drug kingpin named Carter Verone (Cole Hauser), but despite having Agent Monica Clemente (Eva Mendes) on the inside, they have been unable to link Verone to any drug money.
Customs officials suspect Verone has been giving them the slip by using underground street racers to transport his dirty cash throughout Florida, so they cook up a plot to have Brian O’Connor help nail Verone, even though he is no longer a cop. Since O’Connor does not want to go to prison, he agrees to help, but only if he can hand pick his partner. Once he receives permission to do so, Brian tracks down Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), a childhood buddy who no longer finds much favor in Brian, but is an awesome driver.
It takes some “convincing” to get Roman to help out, but the legitimate offer of a criminal record cleared of several grand theft charges proves to be enough. Shortly thereafter, Agent Clemente sets up a trial run for Brian and Roman, and once they display their skill behind the wheel, Verone instructs them to pick up a large amount of cash and bring it to him. Predictably, as soon they become partners, the tension between the former friends dissolves and they are soon hell bent on bringing down Verone and his empire together.
I would be lying if I said this story isn’t pretty lame, and more suited to an early episode of Miami Vice than a big-budget feature film being released in 2003. In addition, the tone of the film is a bit different. Gone is the exploration of the car culture that worked so well in the first film, replaced with a by the numbers “buddy movie”. However, as I mentioned, I believe Tyrese and Paul Walker have enough chemistry to keep the this written vehicle afloat, despite some gaping holes in the plot that defy logical explanation.
For example, what is up with Verone’s inexplicable need to have a huge sum of cash delivered at breakneck speeds by drivers in flashy cars? Since he has a small army of lackeys at his disposal, why not use them? Or better yet, why not choose a more inconspicuous method of delivery that will not attract the attention of every law enforcement agency in Florida? On second thought, sometimes it may be best to consider what you are going to get when you walk into this type of movie, and turn your brain off to refrain from asking serious questions like these. Just like there is a place for serious dramas, there is a place for films that serve as mindless entertainment, like 2 Fast 2 Furious.
The only other element of the film that really irritated me was the over-reliance on cheesy effects during the racing scenes. The Star Trek-like warp effects used whenever a driver engaged his or her nitrous boost are particularly silly, and the shaky camera effect gets a bit tiresome after a while as well. Aside from these quibbles, the street racing and stunt driving sequences are quite stylish, and executed well enough to get the adrenaline going. Additionally, the disc’s audio really helps bring these scenes to life, down to the last screeching tire and roaring engine.
To sum it up, 2 Fast 2 Furious is not without its share of problems, but I could not shake the feeling that I liked this one better than its predecessor. This was true when I saw it in the theater, and now that I have revisited this high-octane buddy movie again on DVD, I have found even more likeable. By no means is it a great movie, but I still enjoyed it all the same, particularly due to the high-speed driving sequences, cacophony of sound coming out of my speakers, and eye-popping visuals. However, even though I reiterate that I liked this film, I did read several scathing reviews in my local newspapers when it was released theatrically, and I can see how some people might find this film loathsome. Given that, I will not give the film itself my unqualified recommendation, but I will say that as a “home theater experience”, I highly recommend this disc.
SO, HOW DOES IT LOOK?
Since John Singleton’s 2 Fast 2 Furious is a recent, big-budget film, I expected it to look fantastic, and the anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) transfer did not disappoint. Colors are vibrant and well saturated, effectively capturing the beauty of the cars, the Miami locations, and the lovely ladies present throughout the film. The print is also extremely clean, largely free from specks, dirt, or other unwanted debris, and the image boasts finely detailed backgrounds, thanks to the minimal application of edge enhancement. Similarly, blacks are deep but detailed, resulting in a lush, three-dimensional image with excellent shadow delineation.
The only thing is that the pseudo-warp effects used whenever a character engages their Nitrous boost look even cheesier in this almost pristine setting. Other than that, there is not much to complain about, as this a great transfer overall! 2 Fast 2 Furious is clearly more about style than substance, and Universal did a good job of making sure its “style” elements look as good as they did in the theater, if not better.
WHAT IS THAT NOISE?
Subwoofers beware, because the unbelievable Dolby Digital 5.1 track on 2 Fast 2 Furious is coming for you! Frequency response on this track is fantastic, and the almost constant LFE will not only pummel your ears into submission, but quite possibly rattle the screws right out of your drywall! Indeed, the audio is so involving that it actually makes this fairly entertaining film an even more enjoyable experience.
What really amazed me thing is that despite the continuous presence of screeching tires, roaring engines, gunfire, and Florida’s trademarked bass-heavy rap, dialogue is easily discernable. Better still, the dialogue is anomaly-free, and faithfully presented. Surround use is also rather aggressive, and really helps get the adrenaline going during the film’s many racing scenes. In my humble opinion, this is one of the better Dolby Digital mixes out there, and there is definitely some demo material on this disc. I can hardly wait to hear what the inevitable “Tricked Out” edition’s DTS track sounds like!
Note: There are three separate menu themes, one each for the following cars/characters in the film:
Mitsubishi Evolution 7 – Brian O’Connor
Mitsubishi Spyder – Roman Pearce
Honda S2000 – Suki
On each of these menus, there are three supplements unique to the actor (Paul Walker, Tyrese, or Devon Aoki). Specifically, there are very short featurettes that cover: each actor, each character’s ride, and each actor participating in a “driving school” before the movie began shooting on every one of these menus.
**Prelude to 2 Fast 2 Furious:
This roughly 6-minute short, shot without dialogue in a music-video style, shows Brian O’Connor leaving Los Angeles and making his way across the country before finally settling in Miami. There is footage of Brian eluding police and street racing in various cities, as well hitching a ride with a very beautiful woman. Strangely, although this short film runs for only 6 minutes, I found the racing scenes tedious, but perhaps that is because they are a lot more straightforward than the driving scenes in the actual film. On the whole, however, I did enjoy this short, as it is a pretty cool way of tying the two films together.
** Deleted Scenes:
There are a total of 6 deleted scenes, along with introductions by editor Bruce Cannon and Director John Singleton. The majority of these cuts are merely small parts of scenes that remained in the final cut of the film, and in all honesty most of the information presented is superfluous. In my opinion, the only interesting deletion involves a brief rooftop discussion between Brian and Bilkins about the events that took place in The Fast and the Furious.
**Feature Length Commentary:
Over the course of the feature length commentary for 2 Fast 2 Furious, Director John Singleton proves to be an interesting and engaging speaker. Mr. Singleton’s delivery is somewhat laid-back, but he talks a lot, and reveals many of his ideas for the images that ended up on screen. Some of the highlights included:
--- Singleton discussing his desire to help Paul Walker improve as an actor, and some of the directions he gave him to help grow as a performer.
--- The racing sequences were influenced by video games, Japanese anime, and the old Speed Racer cartoons. Mr. Singleton wanted to avoid the “traditional” camera angles used in racing movies as much as possible, so that 2 Fast 2 Furious would have a distinctive appearance.
--- There is some interesting commentary on the process of editing scenes to create a specific feel or impact. Singleton also offers up some of the tips given to him by none other than Steven Spielberg, which is his favorite contemporary director.
--- The actors in the film went through a pretty rigorous driving school so they would be able to do a lot more driving than the actors did in The Fast and the Furious. This was necessary to get some of the unique shots Singleton wanted during the driving sequences.
--- The electrical shut-down device used by the police in the film is not real, it was “invented” by Singleton.
There is a lot more information in this commentary track, including more of the methods employed by the filmmakers to try and make this film stand on its own, lots of background information, and an analysis of some of the less obvious details in the film. If you are a fan of the film, it is definitely worth listening to, which makes it easy to recommend sitting through it!
**“Spotlight On” Featurettes:
As noted above, there are three separate “Spotlight On” featurettes (one each for Paul Walker, Tyrese, and Devon Aoki). All three are very brief, perhaps only a couple minutes long, and feature some typical behind the scenes shots and the actors reminiscing about their experiences working on 2 Fast 2 Furious. Some of the material is ported over from the longer Inside 2 Fast 2 Furious featurette, which is mildly disappointing, but these three pieces are short enough not to be tedious, so they are worth checking out.
The fairly amusing outtakes feature the usual bloopers, line flubs, and actors breaking up during the middle of a scene. Pretty typical stuff really, except there is some footage of Tyrese and Paul Walker clowning around, punching each other, and so forth, which clearly shows how much fun they had working together.
**“Supercharged Stunts” Featurette:
In this featurette, which runs for approximately 5 minutes, Mike Wassel, Visual Effects Supervisor, outlines the planning and pre-visualization of the final stunt in the film. This segment also discusses the process of blending footage shot on a soundstage with footage shot in a real environment.
**“Inside 2 Fast 2 Furious” Featurette:
This nearly 10-minute documentary features Paul Walker, Tyrese, Eva Mendes, Ludacris, John Singleton, and Producer Neal Moritz, among others, disseminating information about the creation of 2 Fast 2 Furious. Some of the information is covered in the other featurettes, albeit in less detail, but there is some interesting commentary on John Singleton being approached to direct, what it was like to film on location in Miami, and the relationship between the Brian O’Connor and Roman Pearce characters. There is also some additional insight into the car culture, and how the characters’ cars were given unique looks.
**Driving School With The Cast:
As noted above, there are three separate featurettes in this category, one each for Paul Walker, Tyrese, and Devon Aoki. Like the “Spotlight On” featurettes, these are all very short, but feature some nice footage of the actors learning to handle high-performance cars so they could do a lot more driving than the actors did in the first film, including some of their own stunts.
There are three featurettes in this category, tucked away on the menus for Roman, Brian, and Suki. Like the “Spotlight On” and “Driving School” featurettes, these are very short, but they are also pretty interesting. Each one details how the car for each character was chosen and covers some of the modifications made to it. Tyrese’s contribution to the final appearance of the car he drives in the film was noteworthy, and I think his suggestions made the Mitsubishi Spyder look quite a bit better. Unfortunately, the length of these featurettes doesn’t allow for a lot of detail, so anyone looking for a truly in-depth analysis of how the cars were modified will be disappointed. However, if you are just looking for a nice little overview of how the cars were transformed, then be sure to give these featurettes a spin.
**Making Music With Ludacris:
If you elect to view this featurette, you will be treated to approximately 5 minutes of footage, showing Ludacris in the studio, talking to John Singleton about writing lyrics, and performing on the set of the music video for Act A Fool in Los Angeles, along with his fellow cast members from 2 Fast 2 Furious.
**“Did You Know That?” – Animated Anecdotes:
The “Did You Know That?” feature turned out to be the one true disappointment in 2 Fast 2 Furious’ comprehensive collection of extras. To begin with, the information is presented via text, but there are so few overlays I was unsure if this extra was enabled at first (there is a caveat about it affecting certain DVD players).
More importantly, what little information is offered is not all that enticing. For example, we learn that the mansion used as Carter Verone’s home once belonged to Sylvester Stallone, and that Paul Walker was named one of People Magazine’s 50 “Most Beautiful People” in 2001. I think the most absurd overlay said something like “Paul and Tyrese were extremely impressed by the beauty of the women of Miami.” No kidding, but how does any of this relate to the film?
I cannot stress how superfluous most of the information in this feature is, and I for one will definitely leave this feature off the next time I watch 2 Fast 2 Furious. For what it is worth, at least there are so few overlays that they do not take too much away from one’s ability to view the movie.
**Video Game Sneak Peek:
This extra is a quick preview of The Fast and the Furious video game that is scheduled for release in November of 2003 on Playstation 2, Xbox, and other platforms.
**Tricking Out a Hot Import Car
In this brief extra, Craig Lieberman (Technical Advisor) discusses the process of tricking-out the Mitsubishi Lancer used in the film, which took 6 weeks. Topics covered include the selection, installation, or modification of various components, including the engine, exhaust, turbo-charger, audio system, and graphics. Since this featurette is very short, there is not a lot of detail on any of these modifications, so gearheads probably won’t find this feature terribly exciting. However, as I don’t even change my own oil, I found it very interesting to see how much work went into the Lancer, and how different the car looked after the modifications were completed.
Brief bios / filmographies are provided for:
Cast: Paul Walker, Tyrese, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, James Remar, Devon Aoki,
Crew: John Singleton, Michael Brandt & Derek Haas, Gary Scott Thompson, Neal Moritz, Lee R. Mayes, and Michael Fottrell.
(on a five-point scale)
THE LAST WORD
2 Fast 2 Furious is an enjoyable movie, but by no means a great one. Without question, it has some things working against it, including very large plot holes and an uninspired lead performance by Paul Walker. However, the chemistry between Paul Walker and Tyrese is better than that found in most “buddy movies”, which helps overcome some of these problems. In addition, the stunt-work and racing scenes were very well executed overall, although they are not all that different from what was found in the first film. Hey, if it isn’t broken….
Those are my thoughts on the film. As far as the DVD is concerned, I don’t know about fast, but it certainly is furious! The Dolby Digital sound on this disc definitely enhances the film by bringing the excitement of its tension-filled racing sequences home in bone-rattling fashion (a picture even fell off of one of my walls!) . Thanks to a very clean transfer brimming with detail and highly accurate color rendering, video quality is excellent as well. Further, there are a wealth of extras on the disc, and although most are of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it variety, the vast majority are worth a look.
In short, Universal has put together a great DVD package for an entertaining but unsubstantial film. Since I cannot assume that everyone will enjoy this film as much as I did, I find myself in a difficult position. I guess my bottom line is that if you enjoy this type of films, and are willing to overlook the substandard plot and character development, this can be an enjoyable home theater experience, so race to your local retailer and pick up your copy of 2 Fast 2 Furious! Recommended!!!
September 30th, 2003