2 Fast 2 Furious
Directed by John Singleton. Produced by Neal H. Moritz. Written by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas. Release date: June 6, 2003.
The Fast and the Furious was a far bigger success than anyone anticipated. The problem was: How do you continue it? Brian O'Conner was our protagonist in the last film, even if he wasn't all that interesting. 2 Fast 2 Furious follows Brian once again, but in terms of continuity functions more like a spin-off than a true sequel. It would take until Fast & Furious before we'd get a real sequel to The Fast and the Furious. 2 Fast 2 Furious was also the only movie that, in no way, shape, or form would feature Dominic Toretto.
Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker): Our leading character for the second straight film. A former LAPD detective who is now a wanted fugitive after allowing his friend, Dominic Toretto, escape in the last film. He now does street races in order to make money.
Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson): Brian's long-time friend who went to jail because of him; he's currently on house arrest. They team up in this movie and reinvigorate their friendship. His last appearance until Fast Five, when he becomes part of the main cast.
Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes): A US Customs agent working undercover as the love interest to the film's villain, Carter Verone. She and Brian are love interests. Her only main appearance, she has a cameo in the post-credits sequence of Fast Five.
Tej Parker (Chris "Luacris" Bridges): A former street racer who now spends his time hosting and organizing races. He will become a main character in Fast Five.
Carter Verone (Cole Hauser): The film's villain. A drug lord the US Customs Service wants to bring down. His only appearance in the series.
Agent Bilkins (Thom Barry): An FBI officer taking part in the undercover operation. He hates Brian for letting Dom go and for running away.
Taking place a short while after The Fast and the Furious, Brian O'Conner is now a fugitive and a street racer. After one race, he meets Monica, who, along with both the FBI and Customs, recruits him to help take down a drug lord, Carter Verone. Brian agrees as long as he can pick his own partner; he picks a former friend, Roman. Verone needs new drivers to help smuggle drugs and/or money from one place to another, which is how Brian and Roman will get into Verone's group. If both men are able to aid in bringing Verone to justice, both of their records will be wiped clean; they will be free men again.
After an audition run, which both men pass, Brian and Roman are hired as part of Verone's crew. Brian and Roman have a love-hate relationship with one another, but during the challenges provided to them in the film, they once again become friends.
The two wind up performing a job for Verone, who tries to double-cross them. He kidnaps Monica and he plans to kill them. But, thanks to teamwork and good driving, Brian and Roman are able to save the day, rescue Monica, take down Verone, and walk away with some stolen money, because we need to know that they're not perfect - future movies will play to this moral ambiguity.
The film exists to give us a lot of car chases and to establish Roman Pearce as a character. Outside of that, and introducing Tej - who isn't a major character in this film, even if he'd become one later on - it serves very little purpose in the Fast and Furious canon.
Is It Any Good?
2 Fast 2 Furious is probably the worst and least important film in the franchise. The plot is generic and very little happens, the actors are terrible, the characters aren't that good, and even the car scenes are poor, even if the cars themselves are nicer than in the last film. Only two of the characters become important later on - they're not good characters, either - and it takes several films to get to that point; by then, we've mostly forgotten about them anyway. Oh, and the soundtrack is incredibly annoying. 2 Fast 2 Furious, even for the Fast and Furious movies, is bad.