Jungle
F9

F9

Movie
Director(s): 
In Theatres: 
Jun 25, 2021
Grade:
B
Running Time: 
145 minutes

The Fast & Furious franchise started out with legit street racing and DVD stealing where the wildest and most outrageous stunts included a dude hanging off the front of a semi truck and a car driving under it. That’s all considered child’s play now when you look at what the franchise has developed into. There was a point where they became superheroes, but F9 pushes even beyond that, throwing all logistics out the window to deliver one outrageous moment after another. It’s pure adrenaline, for better or worse, and pure over-the-top fun.

 

After reuniting with his son at the end of the last movie, Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) have retired to a simple life in the countryside. Their bliss is short lived when Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) arrive to tell them that they received a distress call from Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) that his plane was under attack just before it came crashing down. And just like that the crew is brought back together for another dangerous mission involving fast cars, secret technology that can destroy the world, dead teammates brought back to life, and long lost brothers. Or simply Tuesday in the Fast universe.

 

F9 is the type of movie where you know exactly what you’re getting when you sit down in the theater. It’s pure action and adrenaline where each scene tries to out muscle the one that preceded it, often to varying degrees of success. There’s a comfort to these films, like sitting down to your favorite meal from your favorite restaurant. F9 is as fun as it is ridiculous.

 

Family has always been the throughline of the franchise and this time F9 introduces Dom’s brother Jacob, played by John Cena, into the mix. It doesn’t matter that there’s never been any reference to Dom having a brother in any of the past eight entries because those things don’t really matter in this world. All you need to know is contained within F9 as much of the film is dedicated to flashbacks showing their complicated relationship. Personally I found the flashbacks to be more interesting as they brought back memories of the early day of the franchise. There’s a street racing scene between young Dom and Jacob that looks like it was taken directly from the original The Fast and the Furious. While the stories and characters tend to only get more complicated as more movies come out, it all honestly doesn’t matter because that’s not what these movies are about.

 

These movies are now about one action set piece after another, and F9 delivers all the thrills and bombastic action one can dream of for nearly 150 minutes. Cars are flying, characters are being blown up, and physics of any kind are being ignored. Magnets play a huge role in the film this time around, whether they’re disarming the bad guys of their weapons or being used to fling cars all over the road. The logistics of it make no sense - one minute they’re pulling cars from the street, the next they’re bringing down telephone lines - but it doesn’t matter because it’s fun to watch. The film even goes meta at one point, having Roman mention all the crazy situations they’ve been in and how they always come out unscathed. Of course since it’s Roman talking about all of this, he gets mocked and brushed aside. The film knows it’s over-the-top and ridiculous and doesn’t care.

 

That being said, the formula does seem to be wearing thin with F9. Characters come and go without any thought to the actual plot. They’re all so indestructible that there’s never any real tension or stakes. Even if they do die, who’s to say they’re gone for good? Just look at Han (Sung Kang), who returns to the franchise following his death in Tokyo Drift. The film explains how he survived a car explosion with the thinnest of excuses, but we believe it because it’s fun to see Han back with the group. F9 is an on the rail rollercoaster, and we’re just along for the ride.

 

At 10 films in the franchise including the spin-off Hobbs & Shaw, fans know whether or not they like the Fast & Furious universe. F9 is not going to sway you either way; it’s more of the same over-the-top action you’ll either love or hate. It’s anyone’s guess how long they’ll be able to keep the pedal to the floor, but so long as there’s gas in the tank or NOS in the backseat, this franchise is going to keep pushing the limits of these characters. And I for one am still excited to see what superhero hijinks they’ll get themselves into next.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
Follow him @ Twitter
Friend him @ Facebook