Montreal Film Journal


Former undercover cop Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) is still on the run after letting the criminal he was supposed 2 be bringing down escape, making quick bucks by taking part in illegal night races in the streets of Miami, but the FBI eventually catches up 2 him. He’s faced with a choice between spending a long time in prison and going undercover again, this time as a driver for drug lord Carter Verone (Cole Hauser). O’Conner picks the latter (of course), under the condition that he can partner up with Roman Pearce (Tyrese), his old boyfriend.

Yes, boyfriend. Never mind all the midriff baring booty shaking camel-toed hoochies and the would-be romantic interest around Eva Mendes’ character, this is a spectacularly homoerotic flick. When Brian and Roman first stare each other down, you could cut the sexual tension between them with a knife. They’re clearly about to jump each other and they do, getting into some rough manhandling in the dirt. They bitch (“When I needed your ass you were nowhere 2 be found”, “Ah, bro, I got something for your ass!”), but you can still feel the lust. This goes on through the film, with the 2 alternately bickering (which infuriates Mendes: “Both you girlies shut up!”) and flirting.

Taking over for Rob Cohen is John Singleton who, while not apparently the right director for such a mindless ride (even his Shaft had something 2 say about racism and corruption), proves himself more than skilled at staging explosive mayhem. The insanely dynamic camerawork, the chaotic yet precise editing, the aggressive sound mix and the hip hop/techno soundtrack, everything is wrung at its tightest until there’s nothing left but a blaze of neon lights, roaring engines, burning rubber... Pure adrenaline, basically. All the action scenes are satisfyingly over the top, with cars jumping over lifted bridges, zig zagging through highway traffic, playing chicken, escaping countless police cars and more “Dukes of Hazzard shit”.

Unfortunately, everything in between the four major set pieces is unremarkable. The plot is a succession of age-old B-movie clichés, confrontations with one-dimensional stock characters and inconsequential party scenes. Scenes like Roman and Brian’s tender rendezvous on the docks at sunset are enjoyable enough, but even the homo subtext doesn’t change the fact that the film starts losing steam every time the characters step out of their wheels. Tyrese’s got charisma, but we still miss Vin Diesel’s badassitude and Paul Walker is so bland it’s not even funny. When I reviewed The Italian Job a couple of weeks ago I said I found Mark Wahlberg to be too "white bread". Well, Paul Walker is white bread with the crusts cut out. Is there a duller movie star in Hollywood?

“2 Fast 2 Furious” remains fun enough as an ambiguously gay carsploitation flick, even though it’s instantly forgettable.