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The Films of John Singleton


2 Fast 2 Furious

Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce in 2 Fast 2 Furious
Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce
(photo by Eli Reed)

2 Fast 2 Furious teaser poster Tyrese Gibson followed up the rigorous dramatic demands of his debut with 2 Fast 2 Furious, the type of unpretentious star power showcase one would expect to serve as his first big screen role--and ended up handily stealing a major summer blockbuster sequel right from under its returning star.

Given how generally blank an actor said star, Paul Walker, is--though he is slightly more enlivened here--to upstage him probably wouldn't be too hard of a task, but to reduce Gibson's infectiously ebullient turn (as Roman Pearce, ex-con and old friend to Walker's now-ex-cop Brian O'Conner) to that would be giving him far too little credit. In short, he singlehandedly injects into this follow-up a crucially missing ingredient in the hopelessly straight-faced and rather dour original film: a sense of fun, both with and at itself. Considering how screenplays for mainstream Hollywood action films are generally nothing more than sketchy blueprints upon which stunt and effects sequences are hung, with minimal attention to characterization (and, in a sequel to something as famously shallow as The Fast and the Furious, even less than that), Roman's exuberant personality can largely be attributed to Gibson. The fast-talking yet somehow always-eating goofball Roman gives the film much-needed levity from the boilerplate actioner plot about busting a high-powered money launderer (Cole Hauser, not given much to do here). Gibson even gamely pokes fun at his oft-shirtless image, as one scene has Roman doff his top for a practical purpose that ultimately proves to be completely unnecessary.

Coming after a meaty dramatic role in as serious a film as Baby Boy, signing on to do 2 Fast 2 Furious may have appeared to be a step backwards (as many also believed for its director, John Singleton), but it actually was a canny and well-timed career move. For all the acclaim his previous performance received, the film wasn't a huge commercial success, so here he could now attempt to prove his box office worth with a big-budget film that was, for the most part, safely pre-sold. But above all else, after having already displayed his genuine talent as an actor, a co-lead in such a lightweight popcorn vehicle would showcase his ability and potential to be a bona fide big screen star (which probably explains why he opted to be billed here as his established, marquee-ready music moniker of simply "Tyrese"). Hundreds of millions of worldwide box office dollars later, it's safe to conclude that those missions were most definitely accomplished.

--Michael Dequina, December 30, 2004

Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce
Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce
(photo by Eli Reed)

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