Why “2 Fast 2 Furious” Is Still The Bad Movie That’s Too Good
15 years later
It’s hard to believe that this summer will mark the fifteenth anniversary since the release of what the Razzies called the “Worst Excuse for an Actual Movie” — which was actually one of two nominations. The first one was simply “Worst Remake or Sequel.”
Fast forward to 2018 and one has to wonder how 2 Fast and 2 Furious would be received — especially when you pit it against the heartless and senseless — The Fate of the Furious. The critics may have given the eighth installment of what has become a global phenom — a passing grade — but for die-hard fans who relied on the winning formula of the Fast family for decades — it was unbearable to watch members of a beloved tribe struggle to convincingly recapture the bond that is sadly fraying.
Not too long ago — singer/actor Tyrese Gibson made his temporary meltdown public when he posted the infamous video depicting his inconsolable state as he cried over the custody battle for his daughter. In the midst of his sorrow was the ongoing feud with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — that stemmed from Universal’s epic announcement of a spinoff — that would pair Hobbs with Deckard Shaw — aptly portrayed by Jason Statham.
Apparently the chemistry between the Johnson and Statham was the only tangible force in Fate of the Furious — and since the Family is no longer stable — it makes sense to take a profitable detour by betting on the viability of two of the most bankable stars in the world.
Gibson voiced his disappointment and frustration with Johnson’s ambitious move — and went as far as to accuse the heavyweight of betraying his loyalty to the franchise — by breaking away from the unit for the glory of stardom and financial gain.
But interestingly enough — the same could be said of the Family’s patriarch (Vin Diesel) who made the decision to abandon his tribe in favor of a more lucrative career move. This vacancy paved the way for Tyrese’s entry into the role of his lifetime.
The idea for The Fast and the Furious was conceived by the late Paul Walker — who had just finished snatching the spotlight from Joshua Jackson in 1998’s collegiate thriller — The Skulls. The blond heartthrob with oceanic-blue eyes and sultry demeanor — was hard to ignore and Universal immediately jumped at the chance to extend the relationship. They asked Walker what he wanted to do next — and the California-bred surfer pitched the idea of an undercover cop who infiltrates the world of illegal street racing. Researchers did their homework and before long — casting was complete and filming began.
The Fast and The Furious was an instant hit when it debuted in the summer of 2001. Fast cars and a gorgeous cast sealed the deal and pretty much guaranteed that there would be a sequel.
The only issue was that Walker who played undercover cop — Brian O’Conner — was the only one from the original cast that had signed on to return. Diesel — whose character Dominick Toretto also held equal value— rejected the invitation to reprise his role due to what he considered to be an “inferior screenplay.” He opted instead to star in The Chronicles of Riddick.
Diesel later expressed regret at walking away from the opportunity to keep the Family together during a 2014 interview with Uproxx:
“I would’ve said, ‘Don’t walk away from it just because the script sucked in 2 Fast 2 Furious because there’s an obligation to the audience to fight, no matter what, to make that film as good as possible.’ I might have had a little bit more patience or belief in the long-term of it.”
Out with Diesel and in with Gibson, who was still basking in the glow of 2001’s Baby Boy — the coming-of-age “hood” film that helped launch his acting career. Director John Singleton was supposed to work with rapper Tupac Shakur — but his untimely death in 1996 secured Tyrese’s casting — which proved to be such a success that the two were tapped to bless another Fast and Furious entry.
2 Fast 2 Furious was never supposed to be anything other than pure eye candy with tons of speed and a parade of muscle cars — contorted to produce the kind of stunts that would delight anyone high enough to readily accept the visual of a “Camaro driving off a ramp and crashing on top of a damn yacht.”
The sexiness of Miami serves as the ideal backdrop — with the breathy balminess seeping through the palm trees — swaying to the street races beckoning the new world of “cop on the run” — Brian O’Connor — who is intercepted after earning his pay — and is coerced by the FBI to help bring down an Argentinean drug lord.
Brian submits to his new assignment but demands to be paired with his childhood friend — Roman Pearce (Gibson) — who is on parole and is initially reluctant to reunite with the guy he blames for all his troubles — but after the two hotties wrestle each other to the ground — they become an item again.
This sets off the operation that includes a gorgeous U.S. customs agent — Monica Fuentes played by Eva Mendes who is also undercover and dangerously close to Carter Verone — played with potent capacity by Cole Hauser.
The truth is that as bad a movie as 2 Fast 2 Furious proves to be — it’s also too good to furiously discard.
There is no question that Walker and Gibson were a match made in heaven — and the charismatic nature of their rapport definitely rivaled the connection between Brian and Dom — which was a welcomed surprise when you consider how vital it was for the second installment to match the box office explosion of its predecessor.
Walker and Gibson were both California natives and shared a similar sense of humor that fueled their playful disposition. They clicked right away in real life — and that translated perfectly on the big screen. The back and forth banter, impossibly ripped bodies and vivid car sequences that Singleton indulged in with wild abandon — all produced an end result that is far from perfect — but still appetizing enough to stand the test of time.
There’s also the dream of what could’ve been if the franchise had continued on the backs of Brian and Roman without the insertion of the other members. It seems hard to imagine now — but after recently watching the movie we all love to hate — but really love when we want to — it’s not such a far-fetched notion.
2 Fast 2 Furious performed so well both at home and abroad that it exceeded all expectations — and that may have given Diesel the incentive to rejoin the franchise, which is typical of any Hollywood star who leaves when the “going gets tough” but returns to reap the benefits he didn’t earn.
There’s also no doubt that the main reason why the saga is having a shit of a time moving past the loss of Walker is because he was clearly the heartbeat of the Family.
There are still two more installments in the works — with Fast and Furious 9 — scheduled for a 2020 release under the tutelage of Justin Lin — who prolifically rescued the franchise from extinction — thanks to back-to-back blockbusters — starting with Fast and Furious and ending with — Furious 6.
But until Lin is able to miraculously restore the settings of a group that he left intact until the unfathomable struck with fury — we are left to savor the good times through the the seduction of a really bad movie that will always be the Fastest of them all.