||The sequel to the racing smash THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS may not have Vin Diesel as its star, but it burns with even higher octane than its predecessor, and a whole lot less extraneous drama. Back in action is undercover cop Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker) whose career has hit the skids since he let Diesel's character escape at the last film's end. He has sunk in status and is now a fringe dweller on the Miami street racing scene. A chance at redemption arrives when the fuzz recruits him to investigate Carter Vellone (Cole Hauser), a top-dog street racer with dangerous drug connections. O'Connor recruits his bickering childhood pal (model/singer Tyrese), now a nitro-burning ex-con from the Diesel school of toughness, to help him pull the bad guys to the curb with a tire-spinning vengeance.^John Singleton (BOYZ IN THE HOOD, HIGHER LEARNING) directed, and obviously had great fun delivering, a straight-up racing thriller that's free of the message-bearing pressure of being a "John Singleton film." 2 FAST fairly roars off the screen with comic book exuberance and a cheerful disregard for anything that gets in the way of its forward momentum. Best of all is Tyrese, a natural, laid-back star--he's not afraid to poke fun at his own shirtless model-boy image and amply compensates for the mighty Vin's absence. Rapper Ludacriss is also memorable as O'Connor's mechanic, as is model Devon Akoi as a cute female racer.