|2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Starring: Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser, Ludacris
Director: John Singleton
Racing into theaters even faster than most sequels based on runaway hits, "2 Fast 2 Furious" welcomes an almost entirely new cast (not to mention a new director in John Singleton) for a film that actually isn't as bad as you might expect, even without the presence of breakout star Vin Diesel.
The only familiar face here is Paul Walker, returning as Brian O'Connor, now an ex-cop after letting Diesel's Dominic Toretto get away at the end of "The Fast and the Furious." With his police career in the dump, Brian has since moved to Miami where he street races for a living. When he's asked by local authorities to help bring down an evil money launderer (Cole Hauser), Brian calls on childhood friend Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) for help, who jumps at the chance to clear his criminal record. But as he soon discovers, going undercover with Brian is even more dangerous than it sounds.
It may have been asking a lot of Singleton for "2 Fast 2 Furious" to recapture the magic of the original, but he actually does a pretty good job with what he has to work with - namely, fast cars, hot women, and a handful og MTV personalities. Still, Singleton clearly understands what the audience wants, and along with replicating the same testosterone-fueled atmosphere of the first film, he further livens things up by adding some fresh faces (like rap superstar Ludacris and French-Asian model Devon Aoki) to the cast.
Granted, the film's strong suit isn't the acting, but the cast works together well enough that the slower moments aren't a complete drag to sit through. The real draw, of course, is the action (most notably the car racing), and Singleton definitely delivers on that front, with fast-moving set pieces that highlight both the import cars of today and the muscle cars of yesteryear. It's still a much weaker film compared to the first movie, but even with its flaws and all, "2 Fast 2 Furious" isn't a complete disappointment for fans.