Director: John Singleton
Cast: Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Eva Mendes, Devon Aoki, Cole Hauser, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, James Remar
Plot: In order to gain immunity from his crimes, O’Connor (Walker) is forced to help the Feds take down a drug lord by going undercover.
The Fast and Furious was a good film, but it didn’t really lend itself to sequel territory (that seems like a laughable statement, as the seventh film goes into production). Toretto had run into hiding and O’Connor was no longer a cop, throwing the mystery/street-racing angle out of the window. John Singleton tries here to keep the franchise going by becoming an action movie – street-racing hybrid. The end result is the worst Fast and Furious movie of the lot.
The first big mistake Singleton makes is following the less interesting of the two leads. O’Connor is on the run after betraying his department. He is earning money by participating in street races and doing odd jobs for his contacts in the underground racing world. However, the Feds catch up with him, with the help of seductive undercover agent, Monica Fuentes (a copy and pasted Eva Mendes role – not her fault, poor girl) and force him to take down a drug lord. Being an ex-cop, he will escape suspicion, especially when teamed up with old friend and maverick driver, Roman Pearce. The pair of them, with Fuentes helping when she can, take on the dangerous cartel.
The worst thing here is the movie’s mistake in thinking that Tyrese Gibson could ever replace Vin Diesel. His character is a bunch of racial stereotypes and annoying personalities stapled together and constantly trying to be funny. Paul Walker isn’t much better; he has never been a good actor, but at least he has always kept to easy roles. Here, Singleton asks him to shoulder the sequel and it doesn’t really work. His lines fall flat. He does have chemistry with Mendes, and I guess, Tyrese, but we don’t really care about this particular bromance. The rest of the cast are quite good, but they are mostly asked to chew the scenery. Cole Hauser, at the very least, is fun to watch and makes one of the more memorable villains in the franchise to date.
The most embarrassing thing here, except for maybe the corny dialogue, is the way that cars are shoe-horned into the plot. The movie is constantly finding itself into the tricky situation of the plot trying to break away from underground street-racing. The plot manages to get by with the explanation that Cole Hauser is looking for a good driver, so scouts the underground race circuits, where O’Connor gets his entry into the gang. However, as soon as that is over, racing stops and it becomes an action movie that never really is allowed to leave the cars. It gets restrained by the vehicles and that stops this movie from being anything more than mildly interesting. The balance will take a few more movies to get right.
I guess it is saved from being a total disaster from the small thrills. For one, it is a very pretty movie with some gorgeous cars and just as gorgeous girls. The music is good and when the film does embrace its street-racing origins, like the first race, it is everything we could have wanted. I guess, it is also a fun film at times. You will probably even enjoy this film, but your appreciation will be hampered by the fact that we have seen so much better before.
Final Verdict: The worst in the franchise, clinging to the chances that the original had potential to have a sequel. Bad dialogue, bad characters and a pinch of fun.