After letting Dominic Toretto escape from the authorities, Brian O'Conner relocates from Los Angeles to Miami and makes a living by participating in illegal street races. Tej Parker organizes a local street race, involving Suki, Orange Julius, and Slap Jack, however, the race lacks a fourth driver. Tej calls Brian, who agrees to be the fourth needed for the race. Brian wins, giving a few thousand of his winnings to Tej to show his gratitude. The police then arrive, forcing all the racers to flee. Watched by undercover U.S. Customs Service agent Monica Fuentes, Brian is caught by the agents. He is taken into custody, but given a deal by his former boss, FBI agent Bilkins, and Customs agent Markham, to go undercover and bring down Argentinian drug lord, Carter Verone in exchange for the erasure of his criminal record. Brian agrees, but only if he is given permission to choose his own partner. This prompts him to travel to Barstow, California, where he enlists the help of Roman Pearce, his childhood friend who served jail time for housing stolen cars in a garage. Roman, currently on parole, blames Brian for his arrest, but reluctantly agrees to help, but only for the same deal Brian was offered. Roman and Brian are later hired by Verone, who tasks the duo to obtain a package from a confiscated car located in a lot. Markham, who mistakenly thinks that the duo are trying to run away, follows them to the lot. However, Roman relents, and shoots at Markham to help maintain his cover. He later confronts him for interference with the mission. Brian is able to gain knowledge of the plan, however, and tells Bilkins that Verone is reportedly aiming to launder his money in Miami, before escaping on his private jet.
Later, the team challenges a pair of muscle car drivers they raced when competing for Verone's hiring, for pink slips. Despite engine and power output handicaps, Brian and Roman manage to win the race and the other two cars. Meanwhile, Roman confronts Brian about his attraction to Monica and the constant threat of Verone's men. However, the two men patch up their differences, and focus on completing the mission.
After witnessing Verone torture Detective Whitworth of the Miami Police Department into giving them a window of opportunity to make their getaway, Brian and Roman are warned by Monica that they will be killed once the drop is made. However, Markham refuses to call off the job, claiming that is their one chance to catch Verone.
On the day of the mission, Brian and Roman begin transporting duffel bags of Verone's money, with Verone's right-hand men, Enrique and Roberto, riding alongside to accompany the duo. Before the window is set, Whitworth decides to call in the police to move in for an arrest of the drivers of the cars used by Brian and Roman. This results in a high-speed chase across the city. The duo leads the police to a warehouse, where a "scramble" by dozens of street racers organized by Tej disorients the police. Following the scramble, the police manage to pull over the cars, only to find out that they were driven by Tej and Suki. As it turns out, the duo had switched cars and had escaped in the two muscle cars they had won earlier.
As Brian approaches the destination point in a Yenko Camaro, Enrique tells him to take the Tarpon Point Marina exit, instead of heading to the airfield. Meanwhile, Roman gets rid of Roberto by using an improvised ejector seat in his Dodge Challenger powered by nitrous oxide. At the airfield, Customs agents have Verone's plane and convoy surrounded, only to discover they have been duped into a decoy maneuver while Verone is at a boatyard several miles away. Verone reveals he knew Monica was an undercover agent, and purposely gave her wrong information on the destination point. When Brian arrives at the Marina, Verone forces Monica onto his private yacht and orders Enrique to kill Brian. As Enrique prepares to kill him, Brian's ejector seat fails, but Roman suddenly appears and helps Brian to incapacitate Enrique. Verone makes his escape, but Brian and Roman use the Camaro to drive off a ramp, crashing on top of the yacht. The duo manages to apprehend Verone and save Monica.
With their crimes pardoned, Brian and Roman ponder on what to do next in Miami, with the former suggesting starting a garage. They are revealed to have taken some of Verone's money for themselves.Paul Walker as Brian O'Conner, a former Los Angeles Police Department detective who ends up a fugitive after letting Dominic Toretto escape. He resides in Miami, and works for the FBI to clear his name.
Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce, Brian's childhood friend who is under house arrest after serving time in prison. He blames Brian for his arrest, and works with him to help remove his criminal record.
Chris "Ludacris" Bridges as Tej Parker, an ex-street racer, race host, and friend of Brian's. He arranges high-stakes street racing events in which Brian often races. He is also extremely tech-savvy, skills he deploys to help Brian and Roman evade arrest.
Eva Mendes as Monica Fuentes, a United States Customs Service agent working undercover for Carter Verone.
Cole Hauser as Carter Verone, a notorious Argentine drug lord who is being investigated by the U.S. Customs Service.
The cast also contains appearances from Devon Aoki as Suki, a friend of Tej. Thom Barry reprises his role as Bilkins, and James Remar features as Markham, with the duo overseeing the operation against Verone. Amaury Nolasco and Michael Ealy act as Orange Julius and Slap Jack respectively, street racers who engage in the first race, and help Brian and Roman evade capture. Mark Boone appears as Whitworth, a corrupt Miami Police Department detective. Mo Gallini and Roberto Sanchez also feature as Enrique and Roberto, Verone's henchman. Producer Neal H. Moritz appeared in a cameo as a police officer.
Plans to make a sequel came about after the box office success of The Fast and the Furious, which grossed over $200 million worldwide. John Singleton had seen the first film and was awed by it, saying: "When I saw The Fast and the Furious, I was like, 'Damn, why didn’t I think of that?' Growing up in South Central L.A., we had street races all the time." Singleton's rave reaction of the film as well as the culture of street racing in general influenced his decision to direct the sequel. The director also claimed that the concept of street racing could be something young audiences can relate to.
The screenplay was written by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, along with Gary Scott Thompson (the writer from the first film). There were two film treatments submitted early on, one of which did not involve Vin Diesel's character in case he does not intend to return for the sequel. Singleton credited Top Gun as a major influence for the film, particularly with regard to the action sequences.
Vin Diesel was offered $25 million to return in the sequel as Dominic Toretto. However, he refused after reading the screenplay as he felt that its potential was inferior compared to that of its predecessor; rather, he chose to appear in The Chronicles of Riddick. According to Variety magazine in 2015 he was less taken with what the screenwriters had in mind for the film, "They didn't take a Francis Ford Coppola approach to it. They approached it like they did sequels in the '80s and '90s, when they would drum up a new story unrelated for the most part, and slap the same name on it." However, Diesel reflected on his decision in a July 2014 report from Uproxx, saying: "I would've said, 'Don't walk away from it just because the script sucked in 2 Fast 2 Furious because there's an obligation to the audience to fight, no matter what, to make that film as good as possible.' (...) I might have had a little bit more patience or belief in the long-term of it."
Paul Walker, who had just finished Timeline at the time, reprised his role in the second picture as Brian O'Conner. Tyrese Gibson, then known mononymously as Tyrese, also became a part of the cast having previously acted in Singleton's Baby Boy, which was the singer's feature film acting debut; he portrayed Roman Pearce. Ja Rule, another prominent rap artist who appeared in The Fast and the Furious, was originally tapped for the role of Tej Parker. Ja Rule was offered $500,000 for the role, which was more than what he had been paid to appear in The Fast and the Furious, $15,000. According to Singleton, "Ja got too big for himself. He turned it down. He turned down a half a million dollars. (...) He was acting like he was too big to be in the sequel. He wouldn't return calls." The director then hired Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, a relatively unknown rap artist at the time as a substitute. Bridges would later rose to prominence for appearing in the film and star in later films such as Crash and Hustle & Flow. Additional cast also included Cole Hauser as key villain Carter Verone, who appeared in Singleton's Higher Learning; Eva Mendes as undercover agent Monica Fuentes; and Devon Aoki as Suki, the sole female driver in the film.
Principal photography began in the fall of 2002, and Matthew F. Leonetti served as the director of photography. Filming was done mostly in various parts of Florida such as Miami Beach, Seven Mile Bridge, and Homestead Air Force Base. Hauser's character's mansion was shot in Coral Gables, which was owned by Sylvester Stallone.
A car enthusiast himself, Walker drove his personal Nissan Skyline GT-R model R-34 in the film's opening scenes. Aoki did not have a driver's license or any driving experience prior to the film's production, and took driving lessons during filming; she drove a pink 2001 Honda S2000 AP1 in the film. Gibson drove a convertible Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII, while Michael Ealy drove a Toyota Supra Turbo MkIV model JZA80 that had belonged to Walker in The Fast and the Furious.
The musical score was composed by David Arnold. The soundtrack was released on May 27, 2003 on Def Jam Recordings, the same record label that Ludacris was signed to.
2 Fast 2 Furious earned $50,472,480 in its U.S. opening in 3,408 theaters, ranking first for the weekend. In its 133 days in release, the film reached a peak release of 3,418 theaters in the U.S. and earned $127,154,901 domestically. The film had the 15th largest domestic gross of 2003 and the 16th largest worldwide gross of 2003; combined with the foreign gross of $109,195,760, the film earned $236,350,661 worldwide.
On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 36% based on 160 reviews, with an average rating of 4.7/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Beautiful people and beautiful cars in a movie that won't tax the brain cells". Metacritic assessed, based on 35 critics, a weighted average score of 38 out of 100, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews" among the sampled critics.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave 3/4 and said, "It doesn't have a brain in its head, but it's made with skill and style and, boy, it is fast and furious."
The movie received two Razzie Award nominations including Worst Remake or Sequel and Worst Excuse for an Actual Movie (All Concept/No Content).