The Fast and the Furious recently reappeared on DVD in a new “tricked out” special edition that promises to give you more of what you loved about that Paul Walker-Vin Diesel sensation. The same applies to John Singleton’s sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious. This unabashedly meaningless affair wholeheartedly subscribes to the more-is-better recipe for cinematic second installments, offering up hotter Day-Glo cars, a wider variety of hunks and bonitas, and wilder street racing escapades in an attempt to top the original’s testosterone-pumped treats.
Imagine my astonishment, then, to find that 2 much of everything that didn’t work the first time around is just the right amount for this agreeably moronic follow-up. Paul “Bland as Vanilla” Walker returns as Brian O’Conner, who, it turns out, was thrown off the force for letting Vin Diesel go free at the end of last film. Now illegally racing cars for cash in South Florida, O’Conner is coerced by the feds to infiltrate a drug dealer’s operations in return for a clean criminal record. To aid in his assignment—as well as to fulfill the “brawny person-of-color sidekick” role made available when Diesel pulled out of the film—he recruits bad-ass childhood pal Roman Pearce (model/singer Tyrese), a sexy, wisecracking troublemaker who resents the fact that O’Conner didn’t save him from doing hard time years earlier.
Disobeying their perpetually bellowing customs officer boss at every turn, the two race lots of fast cars, fall in love with a sultry undercover agent (Eva Mendes), and spout one riotously dumb-as-dirt quip after another. All of it adds up to extreme emptiness, but the production’s oil-slick energy and eye-candy opulence nonetheless contribute to a satisfying array of mindless thrills. Singleton’s camera swoops and glides around its muscular vehicles (both automotive and human) with a dynamism that resembles the best comic-book extravagance, adding to the gone-in-60-seconds pleasure of watching cars take flight via nitrous oxide turbo boosts.
After Tyrese gratuitously removes his shirt to reveal a torso designed to make women swoon and men feel inadequate, Walker’s comeback (“Put your blouse back on”) reveals the film’s greatest asset: its casual, up-front recognition of its own absurdity. For a film that revels in scantily clad beauties fawning over fire-breathing roadsters and macho posturing set to delicious hip-hop beats, Singleton appropriately ends things with a sublimely asinine climax that’s aptly described by Roman as “some Dukes of Hazzard shit.” Tricked out, indeed.