|2 Fast 2 Furious|
|HD DVD Action-Adventure|
|Written by Darren Gross|
|Monday, 01 January 2007|
Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker), after betraying the police at the end of “The Fast and the Furious,” is hiding out in Miami, Florida among the road-racing crowd. When Brian is arrested by the police during a road-racing bust, he is offered a chance to avoid jail, by going undercover, as a member of the crew of local crime boss Carter Verone (Cole Hauser) in an attempt to catch him transporting large sums of money out of the country. Further complicating matters, Brian must work with both Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), an ex-friend who doesn’t trust him, and Monica (Eva Mendes), an undercover agent, who is Verone’s current girlfriend and who may have turned against the cops.
“The Fast and the Furious” was very entertaining popcorn junk. Fun, fast paced and loud, with a filmmaker clearly inspired by the milieu and the flashy cars that are the raison d’etre for the film. “2 Fast 2 Furious” is as slickly produced and colorful as its predecessor, but it’s completely lacking on every other front. It’s neither fast nor furious, and despite the loudness of the film and its racing sequences, it’s frequently boring. It’s not a case of the film being slow paced or ponderous, it’s simply that the characters are so undistinguished, undeveloped, uninteresting and flatly performed, that you cease to care what happens to them or why. Tyrese Gibson plays his character as more of a goofball than a stereotypical petty gangster, but it’s not nearly enough.
The situations are frequently contrived and ridiculous, and the film feels so derivative of other, better crime films, that one is hard-pressed to find a scene that feels wholly original or that hasn’t been done before in a better way. There’s a sense in the latter portion of the film of sensation over narrative logic, such as a sequence where all of the local road racers surge toward the cops en masse in order to help our heroes get away. It’s so incredibly stupid and illogical within the context of the film, that it makes the solidarity of the convoy sequences in films like “Smokey and the Bandit 3” or even “Convoy” seem well-motivated.
While I’m not much of a fan of Vin Diesel, he was an interesting character in the first film and is desperately missed here. Paul Walker’s character worked probably because he was a naïve outsider and had a mentor character to split the audience’s attention. Here, there’s no mentor, just two naïve characters, too similar to each other, too poorly written and too flatly acted.
Eva Mendes make almost no impression as Monica, and after awhile you wish Verone would kill everybody, just to keep you awake. After the initial race and story setup, you start to become aware how deadly dull everything is. At the one hour mark, audience interest goes right into the toilet, and neither glossy road race, chase scene nor standoff can do much to stave off the encroaching boredom.
One of the main problems seems to be the writers and filmmakers’ lack of interest in the road-racing aspect of the story. The first film focused passionately on that part of the story, with the crime story being subordinate. “2 Fast 2 Furious” reverses the setup, making the story a crime film with road racing minimized. While I have no interest in fast cars, in the prior film, the director’s interest in it and the way the story was told made it interesting. It’s also what made the film seem fresh and interesting. Crime movies are a dime a dozen, but something about “The Fast and the Furious” seemed different. “2 Fast 2 Furious” was apparently made by people who did not fully understand the appeal of the first film, and accented the wrong elements, turning the sequel into a product that’s completely undistinguished and unworthy of its progenitor.
Director John Singleton has certainly done better work. Even his film “Higher Learning” while histrionic, overlong and overbaked, was at least interesting and watchable, but here Singleton breaks one of the cardinal rules in filmmaking—he makes an action adventure dull. Colorful, flashy, loud, glossy and a complete bore.
Interestingly enough, the story has strong similarities to the recent “Miami Vice” feature. Since the storyline was originally featured in an old “Miami Vice” two-parter, the writers may have derived some unconscious inspiration.
In terms of HD DVD, Universal has done a stellar job. “2 Fast 2 Furious” is as colorful as its antecedent, with the color scheme slanted more to the type of pastels that feel “Miami” like hot pink and golden yellow. It’s another demo-quality HD transfer with vivid, saturated colors, pin-sharp detail and clarity. The sun-baked imagery is bright and clean and contrasts are accurate. Digital glitches and print flaws are virtually non-existent.
The Dolby Digital Plus soundtrack is intense. The race sequences and music are aggressively mixed, utilizing the full surround soundscape nearly non-stop. Dialogue is clean and well-rendered. The mix is extremely loud, and once set for the dialogue, doesn’t need to be adjusted; though you may have to hit the mute button when the police start banging on your door to keep the noise down. During the opening race sequence the Toshiba froze briefly multiple times, causing audio to lose sync with the picture. Pausing and unpausing restored sync, but this is a firmware issue that still needs to be addressed by Toshiba.
A few of the extras from the first film are also included here, but the amount of original extras is still substantial. Director John Singleton’s commentary is a bit flat. Singleton’s a low-key speaker and not really engaging enough to sustain a full-length commentary. The animated anecdote commentary is interesting and can be run along with Singleton’s audio commentary, which is probably the best way to use it. The “Making of” is pretty standard, talking head, EPK stuff, and the deleted scenes and outtakes are pretty unremarkable.