Plot: It’s a major double-cross when former police officer Brian O’Conner teams up with his ex-con buddy Roman Pearce to transport a shipment of “dirty” money for shady Miami-based import-export dealer Carter Verone. But the guys are actually working with undercover agent Monica Fuentes to bring Verone down.
Direction: When John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood, Rosewood, Shaft) saw the first movie, he supposedly said to himself, "Damn, why didn't I think of that? Growing up in South Central L.A., we had street races all the time." This understanding of street culture, matched with his clear understanding of storytelling beats and rhythms, make this a huge hit. It's beaten out perfectly and well-paced, the vibes are perfect, and he clearly understands that movies about street racers turned FBI moles are at their best when they feel like the stories you made up as a kid with your playmat roads and Hot Wheels cars.
Screenplay: Writing partners Michael Brandt and Derek Haas are best known as the eyes and ears of the Chicago Fire/P.D./Med/Justice franchise, and bring a similar type of action/melodrama cocktail to this, their first credited movie. Gary Scott Thompson, of Las Vegas creating-fame, returns after working on the first movie. I'm not sure if Tyrese Gibson's strip club-uttered line, "It's a hoasis in here, bruh" was scripted or improvised, but if they did write it, how did they not win Line of the Year at the 2004 MTV Movie Awards?
Performances: Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Eva Mendes, Devon Aoki. Can any of these people act circa 2003? Not really! Are their performances reminiscent of those found in Carl's Jr commercials circa 2003? Yes! They're fun, they're silly, they're hot. What else do you need?
Cinematography: Matthew F. Leonetti is a Hall of Famer. Here are just a few titles he's worked on/directors he's worked with: Poltergeist (Tobe Hooper), Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Amy Heckerling), Strange Days (Kathryn Bigelow), Breaking Away (Peter Yates), Commando (Mark L. Lester), Sidney Poitier, Walter Hill, and naturally, Movie 43. He can execute any vision and although this one is bold, it's not a problem for him.
Best moment: I quote Ludacris’ line, “You got fo’ minutes” just about every day.
Fun fact: Ja Rule turned down the chance to play the part ultimately played by Ludacris. Although Luda is a beloved franchise player, I can't help but ask, "WHERE IS JA?"
Imaginary accolade: Line of the Year at the 2004 MTV Movie Awards (see Screenplay)
Everything is too long. Is it too long? Flies by in under two hours.
Rating: Second best Fast and Furious movie. Although it’s my personal favorite, Furious 7 probably best encapsulates the series as a whole.
Bonus Fast and Furious ranking: Furious 7, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, Fast & Furious, The Fast and the Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, The Fate of the Furious, F9, Fast X.
Credit: Plot synopsis from Letterboxd via TMDb.
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