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They say it’s not bragging if it’s proven true,
So if I said I could drive faster than you,
It’s not arrogance or a source of disgust
If I can then leave you chagrined in my dust.

I’ll eat my own words if my pomp is disproved,
But I’ve yet to leave an opponent unmoved.
So what do you say? Let our wheels choose between
A legitimate boast or a punk who can preen.
___________________________

MPA rating:  PG-13

On to the second film in the nitro-powered franchise, cleverly utilizing its sequel number in its own title. That’s right, 2 Fast 2 Furious. Considering how synonymous Vin Diesel/Dom Toretto is with this series, I was surprised that he wasn’t in the sequel, which instead featured Paul Walker as the star, in buddy cop mode opposite Tyrese Gibson. Better in several ways than its predecessor, it’s a film confident in its own undemanding entertainment value.

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The film starts very much like the first, with Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner being called in for a four-way street race, but this time the cars have such bright neon colors that you can’t tell what’s real and what’s CGI, which isn’t a positive in this case. After letting Toretto go in the previous film, O’Conner is on the run, but he’s given a chance at redemption when law enforcement recruits him to infiltrate the organization of a Miami drug lord who needs fast drivers. To do that, he seeks out an old friend named Roman Pearce (Gibson) who, despite harboring resentment against Brian’s police past, joins him as a lean, mean street-racing duo.

2 Fast 2 Furious is summer movie entertainment, full of vehicular stunts that remain just believable enough to make viewers think they could jump a moveable bridge too. (Please don’t.) Without the constant parallels to Point Break, this one feels more sure of itself than its predecessor did, and Walker and Gibson have great tough guy chemistry that grows with time. The dialogue about their past friendship even sheds a little light on O’Conner’s actions at the end of the first movie, which make a little more sense now. Even so, it’s too bad Diesel was too busy filming The Chronicles of Riddick to reprise his role, but his Pitch Black costar Cole Hauser makes an unpredictably ruthless bad guy as the Argentinian drug lord drunk on power.

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With high-speed thrills and more downshifting than you can shake a stick shift at, I’d consider 2 Fast 2 Furious a better film than the first, and the lower your expectations are, the better it seems. It’s a good action movie but, amidst that overcrowded genre, there’s nothing remarkable that would warrant a multi-film franchise. Yet if this movie can improve on its predecessor, I’m still curious to see what the films that follow can bring to the table.

Best line: (Brian) “You ready for this?”   (Roman) “Come on, man. Guns, murderers and crooked cops? I was made for this, bro.”

 

Rank:  List Runner-Up

 

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