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Director John Singleton embarrasses himself with '2 Fast 2 Furious.'

Clutches go a poppin' and lots of people act like morons in 2 Fast 2 Furious, a worthless sequel to The Fast and the Furious, a fun car race film starring Vin Diesel. Diesel himself cited a need to wash his driveway rather than appear in this dreck, so we get a film with the drab Paul Walker at its center.

Walker doesn't have enough dynamic to carry a Rugrats movie, let alone a film about street racing.

Walker plays a former undercover policeman who has been kicked off the force for letting his "mark" (Diesel in the first film) go free. As a result of that little foible, he has a very long rap sheet, and the FBI hatches a plan to use it against him. Walker must once again go undercover to put the screws to a drug runner (Cole Hauser) while playing the part of a really, really fast driver in his service. They also enlist the services of ex-con Roman Pearce (Tyrese) to drive really, really fast and hopefully spice up the proceedings.

The original film, directed by Rob Cohen, felt fresh, looked great, sounded wonderful and featured an amusing performance from Diesel. The new film is plagued with actors who look lost, races that are too ridiculous to feel authentic and stunts that are completely implausible. In trying to top itself, the film has cars leaping over bridges and jumping lakes, completely removing any element of suspense from car chases that are supposed to possess some level of reality.

The sequel is directed by John Singleton, the man once responsible for Boyz N the Hood. His most recent efforts are Baby Boy (which also starred Tyrese) and Shaft, films that suggested Singleton might be getting back on track after a string of duds. His choice to go super commercial with a lackluster sequel might do wonders for his wallet (good for him--really), but it won't do much for his credibility. We should all hope this film was just an effort by him to get bankroll for further independent ventures.

Watching this film, I was reminded of dumb sequels where the original's big star took a pass, and moneygrubbers chose to continue the franchise anyway. Sometimes this works (Harrison Ford replacing Alec Baldwin as Jack Ryan wasn't a bad thing), but often, the result is frightening. You can categorize this film with the likes of Smokey and the Bandit 3 (Burt Reynolds leaves Jackie Gleason alone to cuss and whine), Jaws 4: The Revenge (Roy Scheider bolts and leaves Lorraine Gary to kill a shark with a boat prow) and The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (No Walter Matthau, no Tatum O'Neal and no Tanner--just Tony Curtis).

The film's finale--as well as the aforementioned bridge-jumping sequence, during which racers are moronically willing to trash their phenomenal rides--represents one of the dumbest things you'll see on a screen this year. Walker and Tyrese are chasing a boat on a road that they've never been on before. However, they still manage to find a ramp with enough arc to propel them through the air and land them square on the boat, enabling them to save the day. I haven't seen a stunt dumber than this since Mickey Rourke actually tried to be a sexy beast in Wild Orchid.

It's summer; this is when the bar can be lowered a bit and movies can sway a little more towards the stupid side. 2 Fast 2 Furious sways a bit too far, goes past stupid and moronic, and travels straight into totally insipid territory.

2 Fast 2 Furious
Rated NR

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