2 Fast 2 Furious

Smartly, the script for the film pushes street racing to a peripheral role, concentrating instead on Brian O’Conner (played by Paul Walker, reprising his character from the original) going undercover for the FBI to help bring down a businessman who controls the flow of cocaine coming into the Southeastern U.S. Before the fellow gearheads start going into epileptic fits, know this: Taking a page from both “The Transporter” and the “Grand Theft Auto” videogames series, O’Conner and his new partner become the businessman’s trusted drivers for a money drop, using the Miami street racing scene as a means to acquire cars. There is still street action aplenty, starting from the very first scene.

This script review includes major plot points to “2 Fast 2 Furious.” Read at your own risk.

The Story
It’s race night in Miami. The cops have been bribed to look the other way, three Asian street punks have broke into a bridge’s control room to oversee the final lap and the crowd of “booty babes and rabble rousers” is pumped to view a race pitting racers in “a bevy of superior machinery, the latest and greatest street racing imports.” But there’s one problem: There are only three drivers in a four-car first wave, with the winner taking home almost $150,000. Tej, the head racer, gives a call to a man he calls “Bullitt” — a nod to the 1968 Steve McQueen film — and tells him he has four minutes to make it to the race.

Of course, this “Bullitt” is O’Conner. When viewers first see him, he is a figure with his back to the camera, “standing in a towel, wet…the phone at his ear.” Appropriately, there’s a giant mural of McQueen glimpsed on the adjoining wall. It’s been a year since the events of the last film, and we learn he’s lost his badge for letting Diesel’s Dominic Toretto get away in his own car, as well as spent six months in jail for aiding and abetting their crime. He’s a somewhat darker character than in the original, sporting a custom green Mitsubishi Eclipse (although the trailer alternates between him driving the gray and yellow models).

The first race in the film sets the tone, with the four racers having to jump a canal bridge, set at a steep 60-degree angle, on the final turn. O’Conner wins after using a burst of Nitrus Oxide on the bridge to sail past the car in front. As he collects his winnings and the second wave is set to begin, a number of black sedans filled with FBI agents pull in to interrupt. As O’Conner tries to escape with everyone else, an agent “pulls out a device that looks like a rocket launcher,” which we later learn is an ESD. Taking aim, the agent (soon to be known as Agent Markham) fires the odd-looking weapon, with a plunger-like dart “rips through the air and smashes on to Brian’s car, sticking there…An electrical charge rips from the device, killing the entire electrical system… his entire car simply shuts down.”

Cut to O’Conner at the Federal Field Office, hands cuffed behind his back. Agent Bilkins— played by Thom Barry— the only other holdover from the first movie) negotiates a deal with the disgraced LAPD officer: For helping to bring down Carter Verone, the crooked businessman, he’ll get a chance at a FBI badge and his record wiped clean. According to the FBI’s mole, Verone is in need of two wheelmen to make a money drop, so the FBI also give him a partner, Roman Pierce (played by MTV host/ R&B singer Tyrese). A rebel himself who is was said to once be the best driver to come out of Quantico, he is now stationed in the Mexico field office, tracking stolen cars across the border after an undercover job ended badly for the FBI.

Working for Verone for more than a year, the mole, Monica Clemente finally sees their opening. Mostly a personal assistant to Verone, he has now put her in charge of recruiting drivers. As she tells them, “I’ve worked for him for a long time and haven’t see him do anything but keep it on the up-and-up, until last week. For some reason, he’s spooked.”

After meeting Verone, they are thrown a curve: They need to race three other driving teams for the role as an audition. Whoever retrieves a diamond ring from his impounded Ferrari in Little Haiti, 20 miles away, earns the job that “means more many than any of you’ve ever seen.” Outmaneuvering the other six cars, O’Conner and Pierce are the first to make it to the impound lot, much to the chagrin of their competitors. Also waiting for them is Markham and other agents, who think they may be stealing the cars that were given to them. To make sure their cover is not blown, Pearce shoots Markham in the leg. A cop that was formerly bitter at the pair becomes even more so. Using teamwork, they’re also the first back at Verone’s mansion.

Dismissing the other drivers, Verone tells them their assignment. “I’ve got five bags I want you to carry,” he says. “I want two drivers who refused to be stopped. One hot, one decoy. I’m going to have a man riding along with each of you and I want you to elude whatever pursuit is thrown your way. Get the bags from my stash house on the North side to the Keys, where Clemente and I will have a cargo plane ready to take off. Drive on to that plane and we’re gone. The job finished.” When the job is completed, he tells them they’ll each receive a million dollars.

The rest of the remaining 67 pages are mainly a transition to the final setpiece: O’Conner and Pearce have their differences; Clemente falls for O’Conner; they win a street race to get cars for the job; Markham is revealed to be a dirty cop who used to be Verone’s payroll, but is now looking to double-cross the crooked businessman and blame O’Conner and Pierce in the process; and we meet Pearce’s two brothers who help with their efforts—the bond between O’Conner and the Pearce made between a game of handball (r). Of these 40-odd pages, the highlight is the talk between Clemente and O’Conner on a sunset beach about finding the “click” in undercover work, comparing it to running a marathon and the street race; despite the heightened stakes the final street racing scene, it feels like it has been done already.

The endgame comes with a twist, as the local cops receive a tip from Markham on what’s about to take place. To say it’s not a simple Sunday drive is an understatement.

My Thoughts

Last April, when Universal announced that a sequel would be made, the studio hired Michael Brandt and Derek Haas to work on two drafts– first one that included Vin Diesel’s character and, subsequently, one that focused on the Brian O’Conner character. For a project that had a lot of uncertainty, this was an extremely fun read. It isn’t Academy Award material by any stretch of the imagination, of course, but it works for what is: a summer film for the 18 – 29 demographic.

Reflecting on the original, Greg Dean Schmitz of Greg’s Preview of Upcoming Movies wrote that “Universal decided to revive the drive-in style teen racer movie, inject it with eye candy and a young cast, and surprise, surprise, it worked…[the original film] is about people who steal *for* their cars, people whose ambition to have the fastest car imaginable drives them to stage heists…when a character pops the hood of his converted Honda Civic, it’s almost like a girl taking off her shirt (I said “almost”), you can feel the tingling glow from car lovers around you.” Based on the script and on the previews, this film picks up this mantle from the first.

That’s not say that there are not problems with the script. The five main problems I have are:

  • The dialogue isn’t pretty (Sample line: “Brother, I’ve seen some sh*t in my time, but that wasn’t driving, that was flying!”).
  • Some of the later scenes will make the audience feel a sense of deja vu.
  • The romance with Clemente being extremely underdeveloped.
  • The second act moves along at a far slower pace than the rest of the script.
  • It doesn’t take enough advantage of the Miami locale.

    Of course, this is not the final version of the script. Evident from the trailer are additional scenes between O’Conner and Clemente, as well as some action scenes set on the Miami water. It seems that some of the above problems have been at least addressed. Of course, the script is merely there to give director John Singleton a guide of what to film; this is not Mamet.

    Boasting a secondary principal cast that includes Cole Hauser, Ludacris, Eva Mendes, James Remar and Fabolous, this is a film that could be one of the higher-grossing films of the summer. Given that some box analysts are predicting this one may bomb, its opening weekend could take as many by surprise as the original installment was able to.

    The main problem now is in raising awareness for the film at a time where much of the attention is being focused on “X2: X-Men United” and “The Matrix Reloaded.” During the month of April, the film could only garner the ranking of 18 on most visited pages at Greg’s Previews. “The Hulk” and “Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Llyod,” which open in the weeks following, were both able to have a higher rank. Universal needs to press the NOS switch on its advertising campaign immediately to avoid being lost in the marketplace. But I have faith that they will in the weeks ahead. This version of the “2 Fast 2 Furious” script is dated June 6th, 2002, and credited to Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, with a “story by” credit given to Gary Scott Thompson. This version is titled here as “The Fast and the Furious 2.”

    Rating: B-