Paul Walker returns, sans Vin Diesel, in "2 Fast 2 Furious," the John Singleton-directed sequel to the runaway hit "The Fast and the Furious." As disgraced ex-cop Brian O’Conner, Walker again infiltrates a drug ring, this time in Miami, with the help of a childhood buddy, played by R &B star Tyrese Gibson ("Baby Boy").
Does the sequel have the horsepower to keep pace with the original? Tempe’s Ben Hu, owner of Apex Motor Sports, an import accessories outlet, waved the checkered flag.
Tribune: Obviously, this isn’t a movie about English butlers and unrequited love and all that nonsense. Burning rubber, baby! How does it compare to the first movie?
Hu: Well, there’s a lot more action compared to the first movie, and I thought the plot was a lot better.
Tribune: You did? Because I thought it was pretty factory-standard. You know, how many times can a guy go undercover as a street racer to bring down a drug syndicate?
Hu: Yeah, but I think they did the research better this time. The car terminology was much more accurate. In the first movie, they were talking about putting Nissan motors into a Honda, and that just doesn’t happen.
Tribune: So it was more authentic.
Hu: More authentic to the trained eye, to the street racers and stuff.
Tribune: I noticed that this time there was a female street racer (Devon Aoki) with her own tricked-out pink Barbie GTO. Do you see a lot of women on the circuit?
Hu: Yeah, a lot, actually. Whether it’s pro or amateur, there’s a lot of females coming up. And they know what they’re talking about.
Tribune: Is street racing still big in the Valley? Or has it mostly moved to the tracks?
Hu: Of course, we’re trying to move it to the track for safety reasons. Every time someone gets hurt, it’s bad for the industry. Still, there’s always going to be guys out there who have to race on the street.
Tribune: Where, usually?
Hu: Oh, they’re everywhere. Mesa. West side. They move around.
Tribune: I hear those Paradise Valley guys are real badasses.
Hu: Well, there’s small ones and big ones. The police department knows who they are. Most of the guys I know go to the track.
Tribune: All the snowbirds leave. You know how those 70-year-olds from Minnesota love to tear it up.
Hu: (laughs) You see all kinds of funny stuff out there. But most of the kids are watching, and that’s probably more dangerous. You have less control when you’re watching.
Tribune: In the movie, Paul Walker has a new co-star, Tyrese (Gibson), who replaces Vin Diesel. And for the second time, Walker is outperformed, because Tyrese is probably the most enjoyable thing about the movie, as far as the characters go.
Hu: Yeah, I saw a lot more comedy in this movie. And Tyrese does outshine
Walker in a way.
Tribune: He seems to have embellished the character quite a bit.
Hu: Yeah, a lot.
Tribune: As far as the direction and storytelling, I guess the one polite thing I can say is that John Singleton avoids understatement.
Hu: Yeah, like when the drivers hit the nitrous, everything goes tracers. That was pretty exaggerated, but fun for the viewer. And the cars are a lot better this time. People will get excited about the Nissan Skyline. Plus, Mitsubishi spent a lot of money, that’s why their cars are everywhere.
Tribune: What do you give "2 Fast 2 Furious," out of four stars?
Hu: I gave it three stars. It’s worth the money to go see it, it’s action-packed and exciting. I don’t know about kids under 13 . . . Tribune: I gave it one-and-ahalf. So much of it was absurd, like the villain, played by Cole Hauser, with his Ricardo Montalban dye-job. But the racing scenes were sufficiently offthe-hook. It’s interesting you mentioned the thing about little kids not seeing it. It’s rated PG-13, and under the MPAA guidelines, where it normally reads "profanity, violence," etc. — this one says "street racing," like it’s become a parental red flag or something. Hu: (laughs) I guess it’s something parents worry about.