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In Theaters


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Steven Isaac

Movie Review

If The Fast and the Furious was a Thursday night “Must-See TV” commercial for illegal street racing, 2 Fast 2 Furious is its Super Bowl equivalent. “Because of the incredible response to The Fast and the Furious, we knew we had struck a chord with young audiences. We knew they were ready for another film,” says producer Neal H. Moritz. “We needed to repeat the excitement created by the first film, but also turn it up a few notches.” Wall-to-wall noise swallows you and your theater seat whole as roaring engines and squealing tires render human actors incidental. Maybe that’s why I barely noticed that Vin Diesel never makes an appearance in this sequel. He’s easily replaced by rapper/actor Tyrese who plays Roman, a not-so-ex-con who gets handed his get-out-of-jail-free card for helping the Feds nail a big-time drug lord. He’s paired up with first-movie survivor Paul Walker, whose character, Brian, has migrated to the Florida street scene after being fired from the L.A.P.D. The two men are promised legal immunity if they’ll infiltrate the kingpin’s organization and set up a giant sting operation. Of course, they’ll do it posing as street racers. That gives filmmakers plenty of space to stage all manner of races, chases and spills. “Are you ready for this?” Brian asks Roman. “Guns, murderers and crooked cops?” retorts Roman. “I was made for this, bro!”

positive elements: When beautiful, undercover Customs agent Monica Clemente finds herself exposed and in danger, Brian won’t rest until he’s saved her. Sure, his motives are tinged with sexual desire, but he still risks life and limb to be her shining knight.

sexual content: Where there are souped-up cars there will always be souped-up ladies. Female hangers-on dress provocatively, baring large amounts of skin. Dress code at the beach: bikinis. The camera zooms in for a tight shot of one woman wearing a g-string. (Roman makes quite of show of ogling the girls, tossing out rude remarks.) Monica wears revealing outfits, including a bikini. (It’s assumed she’s sleeping with the drug kingpin—activity referred to as “tapping”—but the two never do more than kiss onscreen.) The camera follows Brian’s eyes as he “checks Monica out.” Two different guys touch women’s behinds; one gropes, one slaps. Car-themed sexual innuendo is traded. The obligatory nightclub scene features scantily clad dancers onstage and sexually charged dancing off-stage.

violent content: What speeds up must slow down, sometimes very, very quickly. You’d call it a crash; the fast and the furious just call it fun. Drivers crowd each other and smash into each other while fighting for maneuvering room. Three cars fly off the edge of a raised drawbridge, crashing to the ground in various states of disrepair. A high-speed chase involves scores of patrol cars, most of which crash. A car is caught between two semis and bounces back and forth between the wheels before being sucked underneath (nobody even stops to see if the driver survives). Another smashes into a barrier of water barrels on a highway. Brian blasts his vehicle through an iron gate. A line of monster trucks crash into and drive over a group of police cars. A car crashes into a boat.

Non-racing violence includes fistfights, gun battles and a torture scene. Brian and Roman duke it out in a parking lot. Roman smashes a car window with his fist (wrapped in a shirt). Brian and Roman fight with a couple of goons (it ends with guns drawn and cocked). Roman sets a car on fire. To torture a detective, the kingpin ties him down, places a large rat on his stomach and puts a metal pail on top of the rat. When he heats the pail with a blowtorch, the rat begins to tear into the man’s skin. Roman shoots at police officers who are getting in the way of their sting. He also rigs an SUV to crash into their oncoming vehicles. To get rid of one of the bad guys, Roman “ejects” him from the passenger seat of his car at high speeds. Another goon is beaten and kicked after he bites Brian. A man is shot in the shoulder.

crude or profane language: More than 30 s-words clutter the script, and that doesn’t count the ones making appearances in the background music. Closing-credits music includes a partially muted f-word. Other profanity is frequent (bringing the count to well above 100), and God’s name is combined with “d–n.” Crude slang is used for sexual anatomy. Brian and Roman both make obscene gestures.

drug and alcohol content: The drug lord clutches a series of large cigars. He and Monica drink champagne. Others drink alcohol at clubs. A rap tune makes reference to smoking marijuana.

other negative elements: Once again, it’s the bad guys who triumph over the “badder” guys. All wrongs are forgiven; all damages are deemed necessary. If Brian and Roman take down the drug lord, their “petty” crimes of reckless endangerment, organized street racing and theft are all just water under the bridge. Even shooting at cops and destroying countless police vehicles are okay acts in this movie.

While many of the film’s racing moves beg to be copied, one stands out. Trying to impress Monica, Brian accelerates to 120 mph while staring intently at her sitting beside him in the passenger seat. Then he brakes to a stop at a red light before redirecting his gaze to the road. Pulling up beside them, Roman smirks, “Did he do the stare-and-drive thing? I taught him that!” Co-star Eva Mendes told Jay Leno that to do that scene they slowed the car down to about 15 mph. Teenage gearheads won’t necessarily do the same when they mimic it. Elsewhere, Brian plays “chicken” with another racer and spins his car around to drive backwards on the freeway.

Gambling is embraced as part of the culture. Racers bet thousands of dollars on single races, even going so far as to forfeit their own cars if they lose.

conclusion: If you’re going to create a movie that glorifies street racing, you almost have an obligation to diss police in the process. After all, cops are the ones called upon by society to drag the racers off the streets. 2 Fast 2 Furious callously bashes law enforcement, making mincemeat of officers’ intelligence, honor and vehicles. Here in Colorado Springs, police departments are doing everything they can to thwart the movie’s dangerous messages, even putting officers in local theaters to hand out flyers and remind moviegoers of how dangerous—and illegal—it is to copy what they’ve just seen onscreen.

Trying to get onlookers to back up out of harm’s way at the start of a race, Miami’s hottest race organizer, Tej, yells, “It’s not a game, this is serious!” It’s so easy to use his own words against him, it’s almost not fair. But I’m going to do it anyway. This isn’t a game. There’s not enough driver’s ed in the whole world to compensate for what teens see glorified in 2 Fast 2 Furious. Get in the car and drive away, fast.

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Steven Isaac