2 Fast 2 Furious ★★★

Less fraught, with less striving towards realism in milieu or plot or psychology than its predecessor, this is the movie people (critics, audiences) expected Miami Vice to be and when Michael Mann gave them a masterpiece instead they reacted with outraged ambivalence. John Singleton takes over from Rob Cohen and, ahem, keeps things moving. Tyrese Gibson comes off best, funny and charming, making one wonder why he never really became a star. Paul Walker is the zero point, the bleached-blond blandness that allows the ethnically diverse assemblage around him to shine (to be noted, however: the black people are funny, the Hispanics are scary, the Asians are weird). The women are dreadful, both in conception and performance: Eva Mendes apparently the laziest undercover cop ever (she literally does nothing for the entire film) and Devon Aoki as an anime fan with legs. But, near the end, a carnival of candy-colored cars dances across the screen with a joy that, if it isn't quite Minnellian, might at least have sprung from the demented mind of George Sydney.

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