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2 Fast [&] 2 Furious

Seen: 2003.06.09   ¶   Reviewed: 2003.06.23, 07.26

Reluctantly crouched at the starting line, engines pumping and thumping in time. The green light flashes, the flags go up. Churning and burning, they yearn for the cup. They deftly manœuvre and muscle for rank, fuel burning fast on an empty tank. Reckless and wild, they pour through the turns. Their prowess is potent and secretly stern. As they speed through the finish, the flags go down. The fans get up and they get out of town.

The arena is empty except for one man, still driving and striving as fast as he can. The sun has gone down and the moon has come up, and long ago somebody left with the cup, but he’s driving and striving and hugging the turns, and thinking of someone for whom he still burns. He’s going the distance. He’s going for speed.
Cake, “The Distance

I’m sitting through 2 Fast [&] 2 Furious (the & really has to be there for prosodic symmetry with the original film’s title) and I’m thinking, “I came here for car chases! GIVE ME MORE CAR CHASES!

What other purpose is there for cinema, why else do we have movies but for car chases? Yes! Bullitt! The French Connection! I even sat through the slow-moving Italian Job to watch Minis descend staircases, which turned out to be a crashing bore even though tall, tight-bodied, ugly-beautiful Jason Statham was driving one of them.


They tell me that a sequel to the profitable “vehicle” for multiracial goombah-homunculus Mark Vincent Vin Diesel is coming along, with MoPix, no less, and my reaction is “I am so there.” That is true even despite the fact that all I saw of The Fast and the Furious were bits and pieces whilst channel-surfing through pay-TV. It’s got a huge black Italian and a twee, uptight blond pretending to be evenly matched. Compared to the sequel, we never knew how good we had it.

Car chases, you see, are action cinema without guns (often or usually – added gunfire is the mark of an unimaginative writer). They’re a level playing field for actors and actresses of various body types. Goombah-homunculus strength levels simply are not required to drive a car like, as the saying goes, a bat out of hell (or Meat Loaf through the brick wall in Rocky Horror). Grrrlz are evenly matched in street racing. Now, of course, grrrlz are all sexed up in 2 Fast, but, in all fairness, so is any guy who is remotely sexy. And frankly, I think it’s enjoyable when sex-U-up grrrlz can actually do something in a movie. (See, inter alia, “Totally Addicted to Bass” by Puretone<slash>Josh Abrams.)

(A regret I will voice: The Italian picture V-Max, about macho race-car driver d00dz, came and went at a film festival here before I even knew it existed. [I just rechecked the listing. False-memory syndrome led me to believe it was about a grrrl racer.] Imagine a race-car film with brilliantly-written subtitles! Unlike, say, the brilliantly-voiced dialogue, revoiced in Italian over the original Italian.)

I have no problem with the “plot” of 2 Fast. Disgraced cops recruited for one last mission constitute an entire genre of movies, and I don’t think it’s such a bad premise to justify driving rice-burners down the highway at 90 miles an hour. And the inciting cause is unusually detailed: Open-shirted drug “kingpin” Cole Hauser can’t get his money out of the country, and by gar, the feds are gonna keep it that way!

With some assistance, of course. Italianate negroid goombah-homunculi being unavailable, casting agents scoured Hollywood looking for black guys to cast. (They’re hiding in plain sight, of course.) And the fellow they dig up, Tyrese Gibson, looks like Tyson Beckford, the old Polo model. (Separated at birth?) Hiding in plain sight, etc. It’s not as though casting agents can really tell Actors of Colour™, or their representative ethnic groups, apart. One could use Ajay Naidu as an example, but I’m trying to stay focused here.

The fly in the ointment is of course the undeniable fact that twee blond Paul Walker is too slender, slight, narrow of beam, and flat-out stiff and unemotional to be credible as a street racer. His joyless and robotic expression while driving at 50% above the speed limit the wrong way down a city street rings untrue. I thought I liked it at the time, but when he got out of the car and spent the rest of the movie with fused vertebrae and a gait like a Buckinghman Palace guard in a beefeater, I decided I was looking at an immutable physical feature rather than a performance choice.

He’s not powerful enough in any sense, and he’s not even otherworldly ice-blond enough to amass gravitas through screamingly fair hair, skin, and eyes, as Paul Tracy does (1, 2, 3). Paul Walker is, unfortunately, a twink. He’s cast against a type he cannot overcome. Walker reminded me of Robert Leeshock, another stiff mannequin (anyone remember Earth: Final Conflict?)

Check the DVD review of The Fast and the Furious, with a photo that epitomizes Walker’s undifferentiated uptight stance and carries the best caption of the year: “Paul Walker, star of such movies as Meet the Deedles and Tammy and the T-Rex.”

On the other hand, we’ve got Cole Hauser as a Colombian drug “kingpin,” Verone, with no accent whatsoever. Colourblind casting, or what? I kept thinking he looked familiar, but the telltale plastic skin of the redhead under dark-brown hair was throwing me off. Why, yes, it is the man – sometimes red-haired, sometimes not; much depends on sun levels and proximity to hairstylists – who told the delightful Mim Udovitch, now of Radar, “I like my hairy chest. It’s natural. It’s real. It has never been shaved. It’s a man’s chest, darling.” You said a mouthful, darling.

Now we enter the techno-fetishism section of my “review,” if we can call it that. (Extemporaneous shaggy-dog digression, shurely?!) Just as I am a nondisabled person working in the accessibility field (most are!), I am a car buff while being unable to drive. I recognize the massive disability caused by my lack of a driver’s license, though I did have fun the other night burning my esteemed colleague’s rubber up a sidestreet, stalling the engine a mere three times.

In essence, I am a car-design fetishist, viewing them as sculptural objects. Plus I went into engineer school for the nominal purpose of working in the field of automotive safety, and I can still tell you everything you wanted to know about that subject and, as is my habit, much more beyond that.

I was thus all hot to view the manifold street-racer customizations, which quite obviously would be top of the line as inauthentically imagined by set designers governed by product-placement contracts. I like the idea of souping up cheap Japanese cars, making vainglory out of necessity, as it were. A formative experience of my youth was a brochure featuring the BMW Art Cars, especially Warhol’s scratched-up M1, so I’m much in favour of gaudy, impractical paint jobs, lowrider suspensions, under-body effects, graduated mirrorized tinted windows, aftermarket lights, and ultra-low-profile tires. The various badges and decals I can live without due to the appalling typography (we are dealing with carefully-modulated bad taste here).

I can honestly say that It All Came Together during the opening chase sequence, when Walker impassively pilots his right-hand-drive car with synchronized thunks of clutch and gearbox, quick glances in the mirror, and more heel and toe than at Riverdance. A triumph of editing and sound design, really. I go back and forth about the success of the impassiveness. I’d rewatch that scene on a later DVD with some relish.

Theatre experience

Poor. Our manager today was the understanding fellow who handled the wigger at Analyze That, but his understandingness had apparently worn off. He dug up some reflectors, took one of them back because it was scratched to shit, then acted all put out when we asked for the multitude of fingerprints to be Windexed off. I yet again explained that playaz should be taking care of reflectors between shows, and recounted the Bruce Almighty experience at Yonge & Eg of the playa who tossed two reflectors onto each other at a back counter. “I know. I’ve had that conversation before,” the manager said with an aggrieved sigh. Yeah, and you haven’t done anything about it.

The manager, still a young fella despite his height and weight, begrudgingly walked over to retrieve the Windex substitute, but didn’t bother with paper towels. I took some napkins and Mr. X and I cleaned our own reflectors. By this time, a second manager, another dazzlingly handsome man in a (distinctively light-coloured) well-tailored suit, was standing behind the counter looking afraid to say anything. Off on the horizon was the manageress who had demanded one ID per person a few screenings ago, only to smirk her way through an outright denial the next time I saw her.

“You know,” I said with no hesitation whatsoever, staring at the lad with the good suit, “staff should really be doing this. Next you’ll be asking us to caption our own movies.”

Caption quality

A rather unpleasant caption break:

Just look at it
this way-- it's ¶

it's an opportunity
for a fresh start.

(Yes, he said “it’s” twice.)

Lots and lots and lots of Spanish to caption, and it was.

Do I recall correctly that Carter Verone’s name was consistently written Varone? Or is that the problem of a and e being only a few pixels different on the display?

I saw an example on other-than-verbatim captioning: I think there was no way to caption Roman’s exclamation (nonverbal but definitely vocal) while Brian was hollering.

I think the term blowttorch was written thus. I’d have to see it again to make sure, and I’m hardly about to do that. (Give me more car chases!)

(wry laugh) × 2.

(tries squealing): And fails?

Description quality

Miles Neff is our narrator.

“On a Miami street lined with fit young men and shapely women”: True enough. Finally someone bothers to mention the sexy young creatures carefully screen-tested, groomed, made up, costumed, and arranged like bowling pins in the scene.

Oh, but are we really better off than usual? No: “then notices an attractive tan brunette staring at him.” (Mentioned a second time later.) Newsflash for WGBH: Boys can be brunets, too. But hold the phone, Mary! “The blond coolly smiles back at him, then peels off”; “the blond guy gasses it as he passes Slap Jack’s car”: Who is “the blond [guy]”? Why, it’s Brian, played by Paul Walker!

“An Asian girl, Suki”: As usual, white people are unmentioned, but persons living with colour are. Except when they’re not, as with Roman Pearce, who in any event is audibly black. (Calling Paul Walker a blond boy twice, plus of course the voice and the fact that he’s audibly substituting for a goombah-homunculis who is now too big for his britches, were of course the dead giveaways.) But what about “an African-American agent, Bilkins, enters”? How about “grinning, the bald, dark-skinned driver waves at the crowd”? He’s black. “As three women pass them, Roman gives one cocoa-skinned sunbather the eye”: She wasn’t black. Bit of a distinction there.

“Monica’s white pants and sweater accentuate her fine curves.” Then Roman teases Brian about eyeing her, which we were not told.

“Morning. On the houseboat, Brian lies on the bed, stripped to the waist.” Indeed. Inevitably, actors sleep either stiff and unfolded like cadavers or on their stomachs. Nobody sleeps on their side, roped into place by the bedclothes. Anyway, nice complexion on Walker’s back. I’m trying to be positive here.

“As Verone faces them, the three moles meet his steely gaze.”

“The tall agent, Markham, opens a file folder.” This is one of the unusual cases where I disagree with the pre-identification. His name really doesn’t come up later.

When Brian and Roman gratuitously beat the shit out of each other – not quite as borderline sickening as a later beating “laid down” on one of the bad guys – it really was not sufficiently described.

“As Roman gets to his feet, Brian shoves him and gets in his face”: Love the vernacular.

“Slap Jack leans against his, a brown car”; “he leaps into a silver-and-blue sports car”; “a late-model sedan” (it’s a Crown Vic): I was getting upset. Really, really upset. This is a movie about automotive fetishism and our esteemed describers are making no effort whatsoever to ID the cars by name! It matters what kind of car Slap Jack (love that name) drives much more than its colour does.

Oh, but wait. I guess some other describer was working on later reels, because full automotive fetishism was indulged: “Men pull tarps off a yellow Mitsubishi Spider convertible and a blue Mitsubishi Evo” (again with the product placement). Numerous other cars, even a Lincoln Navigator, were painstakingly identified. Good job.

Brian’s car was not, however, IDed as being right-hand-drive. Nor were the beautiful paint colours on the various cars mentioned.

“In a car’s green underlight”: What is the correct term for those? (“Neon undercar kits”?) Anyway, that term works.

“Brian slows to a roll and crashes into a wall.” He also takes out a parking meter and he actually stops short just before the wall.

“Then high-fives Brian”: No, wipes palms and curls fingers. What do you call that?

There was a one-second skip at a 0:16, after which description resumed.

I’ve got a complaint about the end credits. Miles Neff dutifully voices the don’t-try-this-at-home-kiddies disclaimer, but there was no effort to describe the fact that credits rolled under an extensive and no doubt costly sequence of car racing in an animation style reminiscent of anime and videogames. The MoPix credit was skipped (another discontinuity in the film), and the PG-13 rating card was described but not seen on the screen.


No problems.

Exit interview

No problems.

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