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2 Fast 2 Furious

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Miami customs agents need a street-racer to go undercover to bring down a drug kingpin. It doesn't make a lick of sense, but any dedicated action-flick enthusiast can extrapolate what's really important: Gonna have to beat the cops and the kingpin. Double trouble! Twice as fast!

Our hero and ex-cop, Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker), demands to work with his buddy, ex-con Roman Pearce (Tyrese). Walker, and his checkered past, are the only holdovers from 2001's The Fast and the Furious in this fast-paced, cheerfully ridiculous sequel helmed by John Singleton (Baby Boy). Walker's disgrace, letting Vin Diesel slip away in the earlier film, evaporates here with the first blast of nitro. The filmmaker simply brought in another bald-headed, wisecracking playa, and nobody but his momma is missing Diesel.

Here's what you need to know: There are four race/chase sequences (this time out, more street action), one demo derby, and plenty of airborne car stunts. One hundred and ninety cars were "cast" -- 15 in "leading roles" -- with another 400 on board as "extras." Also cast is a diverse group of youth: black, white, Asian, Hispanic and mixed race, including two rappers -- Ludacris and Jin -- and one model-turned-actress, Devon Aoki. Aoki, who plays the only girl racer, is adorable but can't act even with the bar set this low. And why any gearhead chick would dress like she just slid off a strip-club pole had me baffled.

In fact, there's hardly a fully dressed woman in this film. The credits oughta read Ass Shot No. 1, Tit Leer No. 3, etc. Even the undercover cop (Eva Mendes) is a walking push-up bra. But hey, it's summertime, and everybody knows Miami is barely dressed. The preview audience hooted appreciatively when Tyrese whipped off his shirt and flexed his pumped-up chest. (For subtextual kicks, follow Walker and Tyrese's relationship: They gaze at each other, wrestle, bicker, make up -- and finally trundle off into the sunset together to set up housekeeping. No lie.)

Any viewer looking for the social commentary evident in the director's previous work is advised to look elsewhere, but Singleton does a capable job stitching together the flash and action. This may be the first time I've enjoyed a sequel more than the original. Singleton kept what worked -- the sexy cars, the high-speed action, the hottie actors -- but cranked up the comedy and jettisoned the previous film's lumbering crime drama. 

Setting all this motor mayhem in Miami is fresh too, and it put me in mind of that rascally Floridian Burt Reynolds and his genre-pioneering films like Gator and Smokey and the Bandit, to which this crash-'em-up, cop-dodgin' giggle-fest owes considerable debt. It ain't Shakespeare, so let's just cut to the chase.

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