Ah summertime. The most beautiful time of the year. The sun is out, the birds are chirping and studios are rolling out reels of mindless action/blockbuster films left and right. And 2 Fast 2 Furious, the latest installment from the Summer of Sequels, definitely fits this mold. But it is better than it's predecessor, if only by a little bit.

2 Fast 2 Furious starts out in Miami, with a street race looking for a fourth racer. So Tej, played by rapper Ludacris who sports the biggest afro this side of Don King, calls up Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker) to come out and play. What follows is a race that is much cooler, not to mention more realistic, than any of the races for the first movie, which sets the pace nicely.After flipping his mark on Dominic Torreta, which was played by Hollywood hunk Vin Diesel, in the first movie, O'Connor lost his job at the L.A.P.D. and headed to Miami to get into the racing scene. But his former boss shows up, trying to nail a criminal kingpin (Cole Hauser) and he needs O'Connor's help once again to stop the bad guys.Walker is the only principal actor returning from the first movie, which isn't good news for Diesel fans.

After Diesel requested $20 million to return for the sequel, the studio balked, and went with a script that centered around Walker's character. Walker is a decent actor, but he's not good enough to carry a movie on his shoulders. He gets some help though from another singer-turned-actor Tyrese, who plays Roman Pearce, an old friend of O'Connor who helps him out, even though he resents him for doing 3 years in jail. Both actors do an adequate job, as does Ludacris, Hauser and Jin Auyeung, who's an up and coming rapper, in a smaller role as mechanic Jimmy. However, the cookie-cutter bad guys in the movie are horrible.And it wouldn't be an action movie without some beautiful women, and this movie definitely supplies them. Eva Mendes does a decent job as Monica Clemente, a U.S. Customs agent who is undercover as Hauser's babe and Devon Aoki does an O.K. job as Suki, the only female racer in the crew.

The main thing that bugged me about the first movie were the races. They kept talking about how the races were 10 seconds, but the racing scenes were about 10 minutes long. It also seemed like they depended too much on the racing to cover for the shoddy script and barely adequate acting. But in the sequel, the racing is pretty much limited to the one race in the beginning, which I liked. The rest of the auto action is mainly in chase sequences, including a very cool scene near the end with about 50 souped-up sportsters giving the cops a run for their money.

The script, written by first-timers Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, is more solid than the script for the first movie. The dialogue is still fairly corny in most parts, but there is a slightly better storyline, and smoother transitions. But it's still just as predictable as the first movie, with a tie-in for yet another sequel, of course. Lets hope they don't go there, though, unless the studio breaks the bank and signs Diesel on again.Director John Singleton, who was brought on when Rob Cohen dropped out, does a fairly good job behind the camera. He handled the chase sequences pretty good, including one on a highway where a Mustang gets wrecked under a semi trailer, and handles the actors fairly well.2 Fast 2 Furious is a movie about, well, nothing really.

This is simply an average movie, which makes it better than the first movie. The bottom line is, if you're a fan of the first movie, you'll be a fan of this movie. And if you weren't a fan of the first movie, this movie might surprise you, but not much. Sure it's faster, sure it's more furious, sure it's better than the first one. But it's still nothing to rush out to see...even if you do have one of their cars.

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