There’s one undeniable statement that can be made about 2 Fast 2 Furious: it’s the greatest moniker in film history. And, despite what Rotten Tomatoes and EW’s own Fast & Furious rankings may say, there’s plenty to love about the franchise’s most underrated film.
A few years ago, EW’s C. Molly Smith wrote a passionate defense of Tokyo Drift, which was once looked at as the ugly stepchild of the series. But the tide has seemed to turn, with appreciation for the third film growing as it became more relevant to the ongoing story — and as the viewing public realized that Han (Sung Kang) might secretly be the best Fast character. With that Tokyo reversal, 2 Fast may have been pushed even further down some fans’ list, which was already ranked No. 7 by EW’s Darren Franich, who deemed this review to be a controversial take: “2 Fast 2 Furious is pretty okay.”
Well, I’m here to tell you that 2 Fast 2 Furious is pretty great. Quote me on that! And if that statement isn’t enough, then strap in and celebrate the sequel’s 15th anniversary by reading my argument, a quarter-mile at a time.
Paul Walker Takes the Wheel
After Vin Diesel decided that he’d rather play a guy named Xander Cage than have $25 million and spend a few months in Miami, Paul Walker was upgraded from co-lead to lead. Say what you want about Diesel’s acting as the series has gone on, but in The Fast and the Furious, he turned in a movie star performance as Dominic Toretto — making his absence an obstacle. But thankfully, the franchise already had an actor with mesmerizing blue eyes and a movie star smile. In the second of his six go-arounds as Brian O’Conner, the actor has never had more fun, clearly energized by Tyrese’s presence and the chance to pick on pizza boys. And don’t forget the iconic stare and drive that I’m still trying to master.
With no Diesel and Ja Rule making the biggest mistake of his life, director John Singleton (yes, Oscar-nominee John Singleton) needed a sidekick for Walker, so he turned to his Baby Boy star Tyrese Gibson. Credit to Singleton, because at the time there wasn’t much evidence to suggest that the R&B singer could headline a big budget action film, let alone eventually become the comedic relief for a billion dollar franchise. And yet, he proved Singleton right, oozing charisma, selling lines that shouldn’t work (“You see, I got a problem with authority”), and stealing every scene he’s in, making us all hungry for more Roman Pearce.
As previously mentioned, Singleton, the Oscar-nominated director of Boyz n the Hood, was behind the camera for 2 Fast (so don’t be too high-and-mighty when you get the call for Fast 10, Scorsese!). The filmmaker put his stamp on the film from minute-one by turning the Universal Pictures logo into a silver rim as “Like A Pimp” plays. SOLD. And the next 102 minutes only added to the aesthetic, which is unlike any other Fast film, from the bright colors (Suki’s pink car) to the NOS scenes, where you feel like you’re being sucked into the matrix or something. Also, Singleton helped pave the way for flying cars, skyscraper jumps, and submarine races by launching a car onto a boat, showing that no stunt is too ridiculous for Fast & Furious.
The Supporting Players
Speaking of looks, I’ve never quite seen someone flash as many amazing looks as Eva Mendes does here. Before she was the Hitch queen, the actress’ biggest role to date was Monica Fuentes, a Customs agent who has gone undercover with 2 Fast baddie Carter Verone (great bad guy name). Like we all would, Monica falls for Brian, but it’s not her love story that we remember her for, it’s her toughness and grape-eating technique. It’s been seven years since her Fast Five cameo and I’m still waiting with bated breath for Monica to show up again.
And while Eva hasn’t become a regular member of the Fast family, Ludacris has, doing what fellow rappers Ja Rule and Bow Wow couldn’t. Our introduction to Ludacris’ Tej Parker is one reserved for legends. Before we even see his face, we see a man in the shadows sporting gold teeth and an epic afro, declaring in the ultimate Ludacris drawl, “It’s gonna be an all-timer tonight.” The best part about the mechanic and No. 1 Miami hustler is that by the time he turns back up in Fast Five, he’s suddenly a shaved head, white teethed computer hacker. Now that is character development. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the random that guys who appear in the film, including Michael Ealy (The Good Wife) and Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break) in the opening race, which gave us the below essential shot.
Don’t Just Take My Word For It
In order to go the extra mile for this defense of 2 Fast, I felt it necessary to hear from Devan Coggan, a trusted EW colleague who has just seen the film for the first time. (The only bias she has is worrying that a poor review could ruin our friendship.)
“The bad news: 2 Fast 2 Furious does not include Vin Diesel and his many sleeveless shirts. The good news: 2 Fast 2 Furious does include Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris in a bucket hat, and Paul Walker jumping a car off of a ramp and on to a boat. (A BOAT!) It is so dumb but so much fun. (And it also gave us the greatest sequel naming format of all time.)” — Devan Coggan.