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Friday August 17th 2018

2 Fast 2 Furious | 2003

2 Fast 2 Furious film location: Mana Wynwood Production Village, NW 5th Avenue, Miami
2 Fast 2 Furious location: the police stake-out is foiled by the sudden appearance of a fleet of cars: Mana Wynwood Production Village, NW 5th Avenue, Miami | Google Maps

John Singleton turns the first sequel to Rob Cohen’s unexpected low-budget smash into a pop culture cartoon set against the dayglo colours of Miami Beach.

On the run from the law after the events of the first film, ex-LAPD cop Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) has relocated to Miami. He’s staying in a houseboat behind the garage owned by ex-streetracer Tej (Ludacris), which stood at 1200 North Ocean Drive in Hollywood Beach, about 20 miles to the north of Downtown Miami. It's since been demolished and the site redeveloped as a parking lot.

When Tej needs a fourth driver for that inevitable race, this time around the streets of Downtown Miami, he calls out O'Conner, whose journey south makes more sense photogenically than it does geographically. One minute he’s crossing the Rickenbacker Causeway from Virginia Key (perhaps he popped into Miami Seaquarium on the way?) to Downtown Miami, and the next he’s beneath the concrete supports of the Port Of Miami Bridge, on Dodge Island, still doggedly heading towards Downtown Miami.

The starting point for the race is NE 14th Street at North Miami Avenue, just north of Downtown, in front of the Firehouse MRKT restaurant housed in the Old Fire Station No.2 at 1401 North Miami Avenue, although the ‘Road closed’ sign is thoughtfully being put in place about a mile south, in front of the Olympia Theater, 174 East Flagler Street at 2nd Avenue.

The race itself uses a jumble of streets around Downtown Miami, most of the time seeming to head south, with a glimpse of the cylindrical American Airlines Arena, home of the NBA's Miami Heat, which stands on Biscayne Boulevard at 8th Street.

The drawbridge which is unexpectedly raised to inject a bit of excitement is the South Miami Avenue Bridge, where South Miami Avenue crosses the Miami River between 3rd and 6th Streets, about a mile south of the AA Arena, though the film digitally transports it to within easy viewing distance of the crowd at the start/finish line.

O’Conner naturally makes the leap with panache, zooming over leader Slap Jack, who crashes out ignominiously.

The cops however are on hand and, despite a valiant escape attempt, O’Conner’s car is ‘tasered’ to a stop, alongside the fishy murals of what was then Capt. Harry’s Fishing Supply Warehouse, on NE 1st Avenue at NE 11th Street. The premises now houses the Downtown Art House studio space.

If you’re wondering why the cops don’t use this brilliant gizmo more often to end chases – well, that’s because it hasn’t actually been invented yet.

O’Conner finds himself coerced by US Customs agents Bilkins (Thom Barry) and Markham (James Remar) into working undercover alongside agent Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes) – who may or may not have gone rogue – to provide evidence to bring down drug money smuggler Carter Verone (Cole Hauser).

O’Conner agrees on condition that he can bring in his own partner from wayback, Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), who’s having his own problems in California, where he’s racing speedway. There’s a Barstow, of course, in the Mojave Desert, but it doesn’t have a speedway – that’s no more than CG invention

Verone’s suitably OTT estate to which a clutch of drivers is invited to ‘audition’ for a job alongside the top man is 100 SE 32nd Road at Brickell Avenue in Coconut Grove. The 14-acre estate, built in 1971 overlooking Biscayne Bay, once belonged to Sylvester Stallone and stands alongside the famous Villa Vizcaya, which you might remember from Ace Ventura, Pet Detective. In fact, the two mansions were once part of the same estate.

The assignment is to retrieve a package from the glove compartment of Verone’s impounded red Ferrari.

Competitors head out to the Everglades on the wonderfully named Alligator Alley, the east-west Everglades Parkway section of I-75 between 27 and 869. The colourful nickname was originally bestowed by the American Automobile Association who, during construction in the 60s, felt the road would be useless, no more than an "alley for alligators". By the time the road opened, the name Alligator Alley had been officially adopted.

The oldest sight-gag in the book sees the roaring motors skimming by the dozily unaware guy in the middle of the road, on NW 2nd Avenue at the junction of NW 67th Street, in the Little Haiti district north of Miami.

Naturally, O’Conner and Pearce are first to Verone’s car at the impound/boat yard, which is at the Rickenbacker Marina, 3301 Rickenbacker Causeway on Virginia Key.

The ‘East Coast Fisheries’ safe house, in which the pair meet up with their FBI controllers, is 40 SW North River Drive, on the Miami River just west of Downtown. Surprisingly, the cover is not an invention of the production’s design team. It was one of the landmark left over from the commercial fishing industry which once flourished along the Miami River. Sadly, since filming it too has gone.

O’Conner and Pearce are invited to meet Verone at a nightclub, where they witness first-hand Verone’s persuasive interrogative techniques which involve a bucket and a frantic rat. I feel confident in stating that this is not a regular occurrence at the Pearl Champagne Lounge, 1 Ocean Drive at 1st Street, South Miami Beach, where the scene was shot.

The festering differences between Roman and Brian are quietly settled in front of a glowing sunset on Pigeon Key, a tiny island on the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, west of Marathon. The Trail, now closed to traffic, was the old 7 Mile Bridge, where the helicopter/limo chase for James Cameron's True Lies, with Arnold Schwarzenegger, were filmed (a new Seven Mile Bridge now runs alongside).

The meet-up with Verone’s men for the big job is on SW 8th Street in front of Versailles Restaurant, 3555 SW 8th Street, East Coral Gables – not far from the Little Havana district. Possibly the world’s most famous Cuban restaurant, Versailles has been serving Cuban cuisine since 1971.

The cops’ carefully-planned stake-out is foiled when a fleet of countless cars bursts from a seemingly empty storage space. This has now been spruced up to become the Mana Wynwood Production Village, 318 NW 23rd Street, a production venue in the Wynwood Arts District north of Downtown. The entrance, with that elevated walkway, is on NW 5th Avenue at NW 22nd Street.

The airstrip in the Keys, to which the cops are diverted, is the Dade Collier Training and Transition Center, something of a white elephant, once intended to be the 6-runway Everglades Jetport. Its single runway sits in the Big Cypress National Preserve, about 35 miles west of downtown Miami,

The real destination is Verone’s boat which is berthed at what was, until closing in 2012, Jimbo’s, a legendary dive-bar on Arthur Lamb Jr Road, on an inlet at the eastern end of Virginia Key. It was run by a character called Jimbo Luznar from 1954 until he was obliged to close it down in 2012.

Formally called Virginia Key Fishing Village, this locale has been a popular spot for filming – boasting a clutch of rickety cottages originally built for 1980 schlocker Island Claws, the mutated crab movie co-written by Ricou Browning (the one-time diver who played the original 1954 The Creature From The Black Lagoon). Scenes for True Lies, Ace Ventura, Pet Detective and Porky’s 2 were filmed here, along with countless Miami-based TV shows including Flipper, Miami Vice, CSI Miami, Burn Notice and Dexter.

The shot of O’Conner’s car leaping onto the moving boat was filmed a few miles to the south on Key Biscayne, at the southern tip of Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, 1200 South Crandon Boulevard, Key Biscayne, FL 33149
(tel: 305.361.5811). A fishing pier was built to provide the ramp, while the car’s engine was removed and the vehicle steam-cleaned to prevent Biscayne Bay getting polluted by traces of oil or gas.

At the same time, Michael Bay was busy filming Bad Boys II (2003) over on the other side of the park.

The final resolution, with no empty pockets, is back at Jimbo’s in Virginia Key.