Shifting an action franchise to a new location is rarely a bad idea. with John Singleton on board to direct a sequel to The Fast and the Furious, many believed the gang would return to Los Angeles. Instead, Singleton and the production team swerved, taking their talented drivers to South Beach. With Vin leaving the franchise to pursue other lead roles, Paul Walker took the reigns. Adding Singleton’s recent collaborator Tyrese Gibson, 2 Fast 2 Furious roars to life.
After the events in Los Angeles, Brian O’Connor (Walker) got kicked off the force. He finds himself living in Miami, racing for cash to get by. However, Bilkins (Thom Barry) pulls him into an undercover case against local crime boss Carter Verone (Cole Hauser). Customs (James Reymar) already has a woman on the inside (Eva Mendes). Brian agrees, but only if he picks his teammate. Enter Roman Pierce (Gibson), a fast-talking parolee on house arrest. Brian and Roman look to take Verone down with the help of local fixer and garage owner Tej (Ludacris).
Singleton adds a lively camera and more practical set pieces to help the new tone. The energy takes a big leap. The first Fast movie feels meditative compared to 2 Fast 2 Furious. Tyrese throws a hundred jokes, cars complete absurd stunts on highways, and one car even flies into a boat. While Michael Bay’s Bad Boys II was a few weeks away, 2 Fast set up its Miami first. Far less lewd (and frankly less racist) than BBII, 2 Fast paints a surprisingly more realistic vision of South Florida.
The real secret sauce to 2 Fast 2 Furious comes form Walker and Gibson. Their buddy dynamic adds humor to every scene, and they can both play up the stakes. Their chemistry shifts the story from an outsider looking into a tale of two friends caught in another bind. While Jordana Brewster became a good fit beside Walker, Mendes proves her movie star bonafides. She’s intriguing as a love interest and keeps us on our toes as potential femme fatale.
Casting Hauser as an Argentine feels regrettable in 2023. In terms of performance, he brings danger onto the screen. He’s arguably one of the most interesting villains in the Fast Saga to date. Verone’s rage and willingness to act out violence paint him as a sociopath. Yet he pulls a bait and switches multiple times. Verone even feeds information to discover rats on his team. Hauser plays the man with a controlled rage and plays his cards extremely close to the vest.
2 Fast 2 Furious might be too goofy for some. Yet with an all-star cast, legitimate comedy throughout the screenplay, and Singleton make this a huge success. An excellent club torture scene would be the highlight of most films. Yet 2 Fast 2 Furious features hundreds of practical effects that take your breath away. It makes 2 Fast one of the low-key best films in the franchise.