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MFF Favorites: February 2nd Should Be 2 Fast 2 Furious Day

January 14, 2017

 

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I am a massive fan of the Fast & Furious franchise. It started off as a Point Break ripoff that was better than it had any right to be and  has evolved into a globetrotting billion dollar franchise that has no regard for gravity, continuity or actual runway length. I’ve written ad nauseum (and recorded a podcast)about the series because since 2001 it has found a way to evolve and become an international juggernaut despite its uneven critical reception and lack of superheroes. It has survived hurdles, untimely deaths, chaos amongst the cast and has created its own form of blockbuster.  .

After watching the trailer for The Fate of The Furious I began to miss the simple pleasures of the earlier installments. Don’t get me wrong, I’m stoked that Charlize Theron will be looking at a lot of computer monitors and everybody forgets that Jason Statham killed Sung Kang (We miss you Han Seoul-Oh) However, gone are the days of deadly truckers, simple missions and Tyrese stealing cigar cutters from swarthy drug dealers. Now we have tanks, submarines, Oscar winners and a whole lot of bloat. The expanded scope doesn’t mean I won’t be there on opening night.  It means that the characters have taken a backseat to action set pieces and tacky subplots (that are still awesome).

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There are submarines now……

My favorite film of the franchise is 2 Fast 2 Furious. I know  I am in the minority of people who believe this movie could even place in the top three. It isn’t the hipster (Tokyo Drift), obvious (Fast Five) or off the wall pick (Fast & Furious). I’m not saying it is the best film of the franchise because Fast Five obviously deserves the acclaim. It is my favorite because it is the underdog second film that gave the world the Brian O’Conner/Roman Pearce friendship and introduced Ludacris’ Tej character. 2 Fast 2 Furious focuses on car culture and the type of “family” that Dominic Toretto could only dream of. I love how everything feels lived in and instead of talking about “family” it shows us fantastic examples of brotherhood and friendship. For instance, I love how Roman is introduced to the world. He is on house arrest and uses his driving skills to win demolition derbies in some backwoods area. When Brian approaches him in an effort to recruit him for an undercover mission they engage in a pretty great fight where they exchange some seemingly dumb dialogue (You still fight like shit!) that actually does a solid job establishing a history between them.

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After the fight Roman and Brian team up and go undercover to battle a low rent villain and outrun like 3,000 cop cars. They don’t drive through skyscrapers or surf free falling cars. They defeat two meatheads in a drag race, watch a rat try to eat through a dude’s belly and the most exciting thing they do is crash their car into a boat. 2 Fast 2 Furious doesn’t need showstopping stunts or careening bank vaults to be entertaining. Why? It takes the idea of “car culture” and creates a really neat world in which street racers have each others back and aren’t angry when they have to jump bridges unexpectedly.

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I love the opening race.

There is a common misconception that 2 Fast 2 Furious was a lazy cash grab that looked to expand upon its predecessor success. There is nothing lazy about 2 Fast 2 Furious because it does exactly what a sequel should do. It expands upon a world, introduces new characters and adds new wrinkles to the game. On the surface, I totally understand why people scoff at it because it is very “bro” centered and nobody talks about living their life a quarter mile at a time. However, without 2 Fast 2 Furious carrying the torch the world might not have the current incarnation of the Fast world.

 

I think it is too easy to ignore 2 Fast 2 Furious because it didn’t feature Vin Diesel chewing scenery and engaging in Godzilla-esque fights with The Rock. It annoys me that after the success of the first film, Vin Diesel walked away and chose to star in a movie called A Man Apart (avoiding his fast family). I am a fan of Diesel and support all of his dorky forays in witch hunting and mumbling in space. However, he left the series (which to his credit he regrets), made some films that didn’t hit big and retreated back to the fast world. I can’t take any of Vin’s talk about family in the new films seriously because he is the one who walked away and came back. His ego has taken over and people forgot that 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift kept the series going and introduced fan favorite characters who are still getting big laughs.

If you are still rolling your eyes at my wild 2F2F appreciation I have the greatest movie critic ever backing me up. Roger Ebert had this to say about the movie:

2 Fast 2 Furious” is a video game crossed with a buddy movie, a bad cop-good cop movie, a Miami druglord movie, a chase movie and a comedy. It doesn’t have a brain in its head, but it’s made with skill and style and, boy, is it fast and furious.

What sets 2 Fast 2 Furious apart is how scales down the stakes and focuses on friendship and car culture. I still think Tyrese’s Roman character is the best of the series. In The Fast & The Furious we are introduced to a bunch of familiar characters who followed similar roles from every film ever. Roman is a breath of fresh air because he is a badass bruiser who is also insecure, kinda goofy and always hungry. Tyrsese worked with director John Singleton on Baby Boy and their chemistry carried over to 2F2F. He is a dude who has Brian’s back 100% and unwillingly gets himself involved in some crazy events. He fails his way to the top, gets caught stealing trivial items and doesn’t get the girl. There is no ego to the role and it feels fresh and relaxed alongside Paul Walker’s equally relaxed persona. You can tell they were great friends and hit it off on set because the two are a lot of fun together. Watch the film again and you will see that Walker and Tyrese have solid chemistry.

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2 Fast 2 Furious It is pure popcorn fun that kept the series relevant and brought in future crew members who do nothing but steal the show. Also, the ending dialogue might be the greatest lines ever spoken on film.

Brian O’Connor: Pockets ain’t empty, cuz.

Roman Pearce: And we ain’t hungry no more either, brah.

 

 

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