2 Fast 2 Furious

dir. John Singleton

Opens Fri June 6 at a buttload of theaters.

With the right combination of luck and skill and connections, anyone can become a star in L.A. As the setting for The Fast and the Furious, it was the perfect place for a young undercover cop (Paul Walker) to make his way up the ladder of illegal street racers to get to their corrupt but honorable leader (Vin Diesel). The conflict within Diesel's character helped drive the propulsive B-movie plot through the streets of L.A., and helped cement Diesel's star status--something he's been trying to undo ever since.

The sequel has neither Diesel nor L.A., instead transporting Walker into the neon gloss of Miami. He's now an ex-cop who races because, he says, he needs the money. If you're curious about why he needs the money, then you're thinking too hard. The opening race is as dull as anything else in the movie, full of squealing tires, hard turns, pedals hitting the floor, shifting, staring down other drivers, lots of cheering crowds--everything but engaging characters. I guess we're supposed to root for Walker, but only because he was the star of the last movie. When he gets busted after the race, the police do the next obvious thing: They put him in charge of an undercover operation to catch a drug smuggler who is--wait for it--hiring street racers to drive his drug money to a private jet. But if you think the criminals are dumb, wait until you see the cops...

John Singleton directs 2 Fast 2 Furious on autopilot. Maybe he's just auditioning to make videos for the musicians he cast (Tyrese, Ludacris). Gone is the sense that anyone here has an offscreen life, that anything you see could actually happen, that anything surprising or interesting will take place in the computer-generated plot. Maybe Miami itself is to blame. If L.A. is corrupt, at least it's full of people working toward flashiness and stardom. In Miami, everyone starts out flashy and nobody works. Everything is surface and nothing has substance. Hell, most hiphop videos have better plots and stronger female characters than this movie, which makes for one boring road trip.