Friends, unfortunately John Singleton passed away today at the age of 51. Singleton is most known (and rightly, so) for Poetic Justice and his debut film, Boyz n the Hood, both of which he wrote and directed. These are, objectively, his best films and if you’ve seen them I’m sure you agree. They’re well written, well cast, and well made. These movies are akin to eating good food, prepared well and lovingly crafted by Singleton, himself.
I am a woman of simple tastes and while I appreciate when something is finely made, like the above movies, my go-to diet of movies is more of the popcorn fare with loud explosions and dumb things happening to dumber people. That’s why we’re going to talk about my favorite Singleton movie today, 2 Fast 2 Furious. Please note that I did not say best.
Look, we take for granted how successful this franchise is, now—but believe me, there was a time that another installment in the series that (hopefully) will never end was not a guarantee. Singleton took the reins and made the film his own—and paved the way for a movie with a dumb title, and an even dumber sequel name, to somehow become the massive franchise it is today.
So what is this movie about, and does it take place in space? (Note: I am convinced the F&F team will eventually end up in space doing dumb s*it. There’s no way this franchise doesn’t go on without that happening.)
Well, friends, Brian (Paul Walker) got into it deep with the LAPD after he let Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) get away at the end of the last movie—and spent a year in lockup as a result. After he’s out, he moves to Miami to do what he does best: street race and speak in a very wooden manner. It is the Brian O’Conner way. Anyway, he gets caught (street racing, he’s ride or die for speaking in a wooden manner) and is offered a deal: either go back to jail or assist the FBI with taking down a drug kingpin.
He picks the latter because who wants to do jail time when you can do fight-crime time? Oh yeah!
Anyway, he’s already recruited Ludacris’ character (who I have never learned the name of, because Ludacris is always Ludacris, even in that one episode of SVU he did) to be a part of his team, and since Vin Diesel said “no” to doing this in order to do the Chronicles of Riddick (bad call buddy! Don’t worry, he’ll be back, full-time, by installment #4) looks like we have to get another person to fight crime with. Roman (played by Tyrese,) we’re looking at you, pal. Welcome to the franchise, sirs.
From there, obviously crime is fought, fast things are raced, and a good time is had by all until it’s not (for the bad guys. Brian and crew live their best lives, always.) Our heroes live to see another day, race another car, and eventually welcome a lot more people into their family, including prodigal franchise son Vin Diesel.
Look, this may not be the best in the franchise (obviously Fast 5 is because that’s when The Rock shows up, and also, they stop trying to have the movies have any semblance of reality to them. I love Fast 5 a lot) but it’s the most important because it strikes a major tonal shift, primarily through the inclusion of Roman and Ludacris (whose character’s name is Tej, I looked it up for you all just now.) Roman and Tej are vital because they’re the comic relief for the entire gang, bringing moments of levity when s*it’s going down. Friends, make no mistake in the Fast and Furious world, s*it is always going down.
I don’t expect all of you to watch the Fast and Furious movies as much as I do but the first movie is kind of grim. One of the crew, Jesse, is killed in a drive-by because he didn’t have enough money to pay off his debt from a street race. I mean, sure, people die in the series later, but also, they can (and do) come back from that. As far as I know, Jesse has not come back. He’s not Fast-and-the-Furious-dead, he’s dead-dead. Maybe he’s up in space and that’s the impetus to get the crew up there? I don’t know. We’ll have to keep watching.
The point is, Singleton’s vision for Tej and Roman created the light tone the series would adopt in the next successive 8 (and counting) entries into the franchise. That’s a major contribution to the cinematic world of movies with a lot of car chases in them, and to Vin Diesel’s bank account.
Also, he gave us this scene of the ejecto seat, which alone is enough to warrant all of our undying gratitude.
So while 2 Fast 2 Furious may not be the pinnacle of Singleton’s artistic accomplishments, the impact he had on one of the most successful film franchises in the world is undeniable. Thank you for your good movies, John Singleton—and thank you for 2 Fast and 2 Furious, too.
Header Image Source: Getty