2 Fast 2 Furious
June 6, 2003
Summer 2001 saw the release of one of the most surprising blockbusters openings of recent memory. The Fast and the Furious had no big names in the cast and a very generic concept. It also was the second car-racing film in a short period of time, after the April 29 release of Driven, a Sylvester Stallone flick with a similar theme. What made one movie look much better than the other is debatable but at the time, the x-factor most box-office observers quickly pointed to was the presence of a rising talent in Vin Diesel.
Diesel had created his own break in Hollywood by writing and starring in two small films which gained the attention of Steven Spielberg, who cast Vin in Saving Private Ryan. This effort gained him enough notice for the producers of the marvelous animated film The Iron Giant to cast him as the voice of the alien robot. Diesel's efforts were unfortunately ignored by movie audiences as the film was a financial disappointment, but he was able to parlay the effort into a starring role in the David Twohy sci-fi action flick Pitch Black. This film demonstrated that Vin Diesel was a rising presence in Hollywood who simply needed to find a breakout project to announce his presence to the world.
That project turned out to be The Fast and the Furious, which opened to a spectacular $40.1 million on its way to $200 million in worldwide receipts. Audiences relished the Point Break-style plot of an undercover lawman (Paul Walker) thrust into contact with a charismatic, potentially criminal man (Diesel) who becomes his friend. While no sane person would argue that Walker's performance in the film was anything other than wooden, Diesel's larger-than-life persona came across in the marketing for the film and led Universal to push the film to a summer release in order to maximize its box-office potential. As we can see, the gambit paid off in spades, so a sequel has always appeared to be a slam-dunk proposition.
Diesel is a savvy Hollywood player who recognizes what he did for the film and what it did for him, so he has attempted to use this negotiating power in order to receive a much larger payday. Surprisingly, Universal has played hardball here and made the decision that Diesel is not crucial to the success of a sequel, so he appears to be out. This means that the follow-up film will be largely based on the talent-challenged Walker and his 2x4-esque ability as a thespian. If you're getting a Speed 2 vibe at this moment, you're not alone.
It's certainly possible that the underground car-racing world might be the allure that draws people into the theaters for this franchise, and if so, this is a sound business decision by Universal to cut costs and eliminate ego in one fell swoop. It's just as likely that this film, combined with the performance of xXx, emphatically demonstrates who the real draw is here and that Universal's stubborn refusal to give a well-deserved pay raise kills the franchise. We'll have to stay tuned to see how the footage looks before we can say for certain but right now, The Fast and the Furious 2 is a film that seems to have more questions than answers. (David Mumpower/BOP)
December 29, 2002
Some exec over at Universal apparently decided to be hip and trendy and change the title of this sequel to "2 Fast 2 Furious." The Artist Formerly (Currently?) Known As Prince must be delighted. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Comparison films for 2 Fast 2 Furious
|Fast and the Furious, The