Film: 2 Fast 2 Furious
Director: John Singleton
Format: Blu-Ray boxset inside a tire
In the Fast and the Furious franchise, the most common word uttered is “family.” It is used more frequently than “Corona” or “car” because this world that Vin Diesel runs is bizarrely sincere. Even as cars fall out of planes or burst through skyscrapers, there is the idea that all of this is happening because of the characters’ love for each other. Whether or not that is effective will be a conversation for the other films. Why 2 Fast 2 Furious is my pick for the worst in the franchise is because it abandoned that heart.
At the end of the first installment, The Fast and the Furious, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) was tested between his job at the FBI with his newfound friendship with felon Dom (Diesel). By the beginning of 2 Fast 2 Furious, his decision to let Dom escape has led him to embrace the criminal lifestyle which seems to mostly consist of illegal and ridiculous street racing. (This time they don’t just coordinate miles of empty roads but they also now have access to the bridge.)
The FBI recruits him to go back undercover in order to bring down bland villain Carter Verone. There is no discussion about why in the world they would have Brian do this since he literally betrayed them all the last time he did exactly this.
Picking apart Fast and the Furious plots isn’t very productive because it gleefully lives within its heightened world powered by NAS. The reason this stupid story stands out is because it doesn’t have any character relationships to focus on. In the first film, Brian had two FBI agents he reported to. One was a mentor figure, who is worried about him and one was a hardass who demands the case be wrapped up in 72 hours. That latter agent (Thom Barry) is back in this film just to eat popcorn and laugh about how cool Brian is.
Bringing Brian back to the FBI doesn’t tempt him to return to a legal profession which could have been an interesting contrast to the first film. So he’s just existing in dumb t-shirts without any sort of arc. He has a never-before-mentioned best friend Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) initially has milliseconds of tension but that dissipates pretty quickly once they’re established to be a comedic tag-team.
The romantic interest between FBI undercover agent Monica (Eva Mendes) and Brian consists just of awkwardly looking at each other. (Including while driving.) The bad guy (Cole Hauser) is just there to be a quarter-written Bond villain who wants things. Even the car chases lack the texture of the rest of the film thanks to director John Singleton adding the stupid digital effects. Whenever the camera magically goes through parts of the car, it is never as cool as when there is a practical trick.
Which is the ultimate downfall of the movie. All it wants to do is to look cool. It has the same objectives as a car commercial. Without any interest in story, characters or even who is going to win a race, the movie wants these big moments to land. Thanks to Singleton, just about every single one falls flat and moves on to the next mediocre scene.
With one exception.
It was later used in Game of Thrones and previously used in actual history, the film decides to use a batshit crazy torture method. A random character is pinned and they place a bucket full of rats on his chest with the opening facing down. They heat up the bucket with a blowtorch, which makes the rats start to try to scurry through the man’s skin. While this is seen as ridiculously violent, it’s also the most noteworthy part of the movie because it’s the only part that feels like it has any personality. Sure, none of it adds anything to the plot but it was something to wake up the audience. The guy who gets tortured is barely in the rest of the film. So good job, 2 Fast 2 Furious?
Directors Commentary – The commentary track was conducted by the director John Singleton. The fact that he’s alone ends up being the best part of it because he ends up being weirdly truthful. It’s clear that he is a fan of this movie because of how cool it is. He will label every shot he thinks is cool, cars that look cool, bikinis that look cool, every pose with Paul Walker that looks cool.
What he doesn’t find cool are all the scenes where “we have to give information to move the story forward.” That’s when he says it’s difficult to shoot but sometimes he takes pride in that like when he said, “Half of the audience is listening to the dialog and half of the audience is looking at the cars and their labels and Suki in her bikini.” Some directors would see that as a bad thing, but Singleton is impressed with his conflicting mise-en-scene.
I always had the optimistic view that when a film is being sexist it’s because it’s an anonymous producer in a suit behind the camera screaming, “Sex sells!”. Nah, it’s the director too. Here are some more choice observations from Singleton:
- “Cars and girls. Cars and girls. That’s what it’s all about.”
- “Tyrese’s reasoning was that if he wasn’t going to get the girl, he was just going to be an asshole to her. That was his character motivation.”
- “Look at that. Eye candy!”
What ends up being accidentally hilarious is Singleton talking about his major contribution to the film. He brags that he made up the device that can electrocute a car to disable it. Though he hopes it will one day exist. But he has his reservations that it will be used as a rocket. (None of this was a joke.)
Another element I loved about the commentary is that it appears that John Singleton keeps forgetting that he has already said that the film was influenced by the video game Grand Turismo. He brings it up like it’s a new perspective four or five times in the commentary.
Then in the biggest plot twist on the disc, Singleton ends with:
“My primary focus for any film is telling the story. No matter how flimsy the script, it’s about the story.”
Fast Females –What a strange bonus feature. It’s a seven-minute short that is supposed to highlight the great women characters. It certainly doesn’t make 2 Fast 2 Furious look good. Most of the featurette is nice interviews with Michelle Rodriguez, Jordanna Brewster and Rob Cohen who are all from the first film. As well as the actress and director from the next installment. Those are really complimentary pieces that has the directors very proud of the dimensions the actresses brought to their roles and the women talking about the importance of their agency, femininity and background.
Then you have 2 Fast 2 Furious. The only things they can say about the character of Monica is that she is an FBI agent who has crushes on boys and that Suki can drive cars too. John Singleton has nothing to say about the actresses or the characters. Eva Mendes is literally laughing during the interview when describing her character. Also plenty of shots of them in bikinis in contrast to the other two films which has footage of the directors working with the actresses on scenes. Good job movie!
Hollywood Impact – When you watch The Fast and the Furious but you really want to understand it on a deeper level, you know you’re going to call Leonard Maltin. The featurette is a likable look at classic cars in film and TV. They highlight their ability to relate back to character and to be seen as a symbol of freedom. Tying the franchise back to things like American Graffiti, Smokey in the Bandit and The Blues Brothers does make it feel like a natural continuation of popcorn entertainment. But you know what isn’t in a single clip of this 15-minute examination? 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS.
The Turbo-Charged Prelude for 2 Fast 2 Furious – What the hell is this? This actually made the movie more confusing! This is a weirdly directed short film composed mostly of stock footage of cars and locations. There is occasionally Paul Walker being green-screened into car chases or him sitting in a diner with trying to avoid the cops. For you see there is a giant article with the amazing headline “Alleged Fugitive, Undercover Cop, Still Missing.” They use weird archival footage from the first movie and an Indiana Jones style map of US highways to make him randomly end up in Miami. I guess he stayed because of bikinis? Weirdest part of this incoherent short film is that it’s the first acting credit of Friday Night Lights star Minka Kelly.
Deleted Scenes – It’s just too tight of a movie! They had less than six minutes of deleted scenes. One was because they almost tried to explain why Paul Walker is in Miami. It will never make sense. Apparently shaving a few seconds from the junkyard scene made Roman “more mysterious.” One thing they show us is just Eva Mendes trying a cigar. It lasts less than 45 seconds. The editor seemed dead inside. John Singleton didn’t even bother to identify himself or even put a lower third on either of them.
Outtakes – It’s mostly just Tyrese making himself laugh. Sometimes he screams at the camera “That was a blooper!” One “blooper” was just an actor wanting to do a second take. So much of the director’s commentary was about how they improvised so many jokes on set and yet none of that is here. This is a sad 2:43.
Inside 2 Fast 2 Furious – I mean…okay? It’s just footage made for an Access Hollywood like show which is half b-roll of bikinis and the other half people complimenting how good the cars are. Only highlights were Eva Mendes making an astute point of the culture of Miami sexuality that the film ignores. Also you had the lead actors say that John Singleton was all about working with them to make sure each moment was real. Then it cut to Eva Mendes saying Singleton not mean exactly but he will make sure he gets what he wants. Fun set!
Driving School – This was the bonus feature I was looking forward to because it seems that Paul Walker’s main motivation for doing this movie was to get a chance to drive these cars. He’s doing a lot of the stunts in the movie, which allows for some nicer shots. That said, this is also a lazy featurette, which is mostly just watching cars on a track from far away with no understanding on the school aspect of any of this. The weirdest reveal for this movie was learning that Devon Aoki (Suki) has never driven before. So they essentially just hired her to be in a bikini—this is evident because she is interviewed in a bikini. The stunt coordinators express concern that she can’t drive and the director describes her as “cute.”
Tricking Out a Hot Import – 30 seconds of this 3:20 minute featurette was a still of the “Do try this at home” warning. The rest is a weird ADD look at car parts and painting a car. Unless you know a lot about cars, none of this makes sense. Funniest part was the title card “Graphics (Making it Sexy)”.
Supercharged Stunts – This was rather interesting because it was willing to be patient enough to show all the steps of making a major stunt. They highlight the big jump at the end, which has the car fly through the air and land on a yacht. (As you do.) While there is still green screen and compositing, this shows all the steps it took to get the practical elements in place. This includes throwing a car into the water, making a large recreation of the back of the boat and flinging a car around on wires.
Making Music with Ludacris – The behind the scenes of making “Act the Fool” is pretty silly because it’s mostly that MTV zoom in and out of behind the scenes. There is progression in the behind-the-scenes drama in that Devon Aoki now has her permit, but she does not have her license yet. Honestly Ludacris puts more rationale in what the characters are doing than John Singleton. But here’s the crazy thing…the music video is not on the disc.
Actor Spotlights – Very short featurettes focusing on Tyrese Gibson, Paul Walker and Devon Aoki. On one hand, it really seems that everybody loved Walker and he seemed like the nicest guy. More weird drama of Gibson saying how he wanted to have the sexy scenes with Eva Mendes and then clips of her saying she had a real love/hate relationship with him. Maybe this explains why she didn’t get a highlight?
Car Spotlights – Longer bonus feature for the cars than the actors, which tracks with the film. They looked nice and shiny? One was purple! It is impressive that companies would give cars to films before they’re on the market and there has to be this level of care to keep the cars in the best shape for each day of filming.
Furious Afterburners – I admit, I don’t know what this is. They didn’t say what this means. It just seemed like extended cuts of a few scenes without much editing done to them. Thanks?
U-Control – I hate this feature. It’s this weird monstrosity that is trying to be a new type of commentary track with Animated Anecdotes popping up on screen or Tech Specs or a new featurette appearing as a Picture in Picture. However, they all don’t happen at once. So in order to see all of the crap, you have to keep clicking between the three settings as you watch the movie. Also if you’re not fast enough, you enter the Picture in Picture in the middle. It’s a terrible video game with rewards like learning that Paul Walker once guest starred on Diff’rent Strokes. They’re trying to trick me to watch the film three more times and twice is enough for this review.
BD Live – What’s New on BD Live consisted of trailers to The Big Lebowski, The Adjustment Bureau, The Eagle and Scarface. None of which I watched.
NEXT UP…The 400 Blows