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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Cars > 2 Fast 2 Furious (Universal/Widescreen DVD-Video)

2 Fast 2 Furious (DVD-Video)


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: B-     Film: C-



Once upon a time, two films were scheduled to go head to head against each other.  There was fallen action director Renny Harlin’s Driven and Rob Cohen’s The Fast and the Furious, both 2001.  Harlin’s film was the big budget hoped-for comeback that tried to revive both Harlin and star Sylvester Stallone’s career.  They even cast recent comeback guy Burt Reynolds in the key supporting role.  Unfortunately, that was the same waste of talent Tony Scott’s Days of Thunder (1990) made of Robert Duvall.  Cohen’s film was thought at the time as being the cheaper, last minute throw-together that Universal was making just to spite the competing Warner Bros. release.  Instead, Harlin racked up another huge bomb and Cohen had a huge hit on his hands.  That was even followed with XXX a year later, making him a big commercial director, and a star out of unknown Vin Diesel.


Cohen and Diesel bowed out to not repeat themselves, but co-star Paul Walker returned for the sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003).  Model Tyrese Gibson entered as a new character and the director to take over was none other than John Singleton.  The question then became, did Diesel and Cohen make a mistake, or would the second film be what critics thought the first film would be?  The result was mixed.  The film was a big hit, but it died fast and was less effective than the mixed first film.


Since Cohen was an action director and Singleton a once-promising filmmaker, could he translate the intelligence of Boyz in the Hood (1991) into something more than a predictable sequel.  Thanks to the Michael Brandt/Derek Haas screenplay in part, it was nothing to write home about.  For starters, it overvalues and underwrites Walker’s character to the point of laughability.  All Gibson can do is strut and have attitude, which never helps anyone trying to go form model to actor.  Even his Singleton debut in Baby Boy did not give him any more of an edge than being thought of first by the director as new male co-lead.


The acting is lame, their behavior is regressive, the dialogue is unconvincing at any rate, and the story about undercover police and drugs is tired, tired, tired.  Its idea of the Gangster genre is absurd, especially by Hip Hop standards, and the violence is insulting.  When characters keep pointing guns at each other, you know the script is bankrupt, though I wondered if the anger registering on the actors’ faces was in their disgust that they were stuck in this film?  Though the previous film was not too realistic, Cohen brought some edge on certain levels here and there.  Except for some throw-away racial slurs, the film is a politically correct version of the first one, and that flattens out any excitement the first one might have had.  Singleton can add this to his disastrous would-be Shaft (2000) revival, as examples of selling out any credibility he brought during the Black New Wave that made his career possible.  Instead of important or even innovative films about the African-American experience, we get an MTV film about cars racing all over the streets without any street credibility.  Now, African-American directors have the equal opportunity to make the same commercial garbage as white ones.  By the film being a hit, Singleton sets a bad precedent suggesting his early films were not important or a very temporary thing.  Get the politics out of your system, then turn your back for big bucks.  This is the worse message Hollywood; especially one with their worst box office year in a decade (which cannot be blamed on video games or DVDs, but really bad films) needs to send.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image was shot by Matthew F. Leonetti, A.S.C., and it offers every cliché and tired lighting situation we can think of since the Action films of 1980s.  The transfer is clean, but oddly unimpressive for a film made less than a year ago.  This is not demonstration quality, looking worse when we get the really bad, pointless digital animation and images that show Hollywood is either worried about videogame competition or trying to compete against it in vein.  Maybe the quality had to be degraded in the majority live footage so the digital would not look so bad.  Seeing the D-VHS copy at the time might have give us some clues even a 35mm print would not, but the HD-DVD further shows the problems with those moments and how much worse they have become since this DVD was first reviewed, while some shots are improved.  The result is an HD version on par with this old disc.  You can read about the whole trilogy on HD-DVD elsewhere on this site.







The 5.1 mix of the film is punchy and moves, which was a hallmark of the first film, but this one is not as good.  For one thing, the mix on the first one was more music minded, like few other 5.1 mixes I had heard.  It also was not musical in the way a Musical or typical MTV film was.  Second, the sound is only available here in Dolby Digital, making it a classic case of why Dolby cannot compete against DTS.  However, it has only aged so well and the HD-DVD only offers a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 that shows this standard DVD-Video got the sound right in the first place.


This film has very active and articulate bass with the rest of its sound.  The Dolby mix cannot handle all that sound, so it tries to stick the bass in the subwoofer too much, while dumping fullness in the rest of the channels.  The result is a choppy mess that lacks smoothness to the trained ear, or to anyone who saw this in a proper theatrical presentation.  The Hip Hop music particularly suffers and fans with their own street credibility who love that genre will agree with the strongest likeliness.


Extras include a commentary by Singleton that shows how oblivious he is to what is happening, videogame-like options that fall short of an actual state-of-the-art videogame, a trailer for the actual videogame tie-in that may set a record for ad placements itself, the ironically titled deleted scenes, an “inside” look at the film running about 10 minutes, outtakes that were better than the film at 2:40 that shows the kinds of personality all involved were holding back, a Mitsubishi customizing short, a stunts short, a short on Hip Hop star Ludacris, a subtitle text segment dubbed the “antedotes” section, the usual cast/crew bio/filmography section, and DVD-ROM links.


The extras seem as much of a distraction as the film itself.  Despite how well it did, I have yet to hear any fan of the original say that this was better.  When a sequel is a hit, those who like it (whether they know better or not) always say it is better in their excitement without thinking.  Paul Walker’s starring role in Richard Donner’s Michael Crichton adaptation of Timeline later in the year was a huge bomb; his presence no help at all.  2 Fast 2 Furious is 2 tired, though any future DTS edition would make a good sound demo.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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