The Fast Saga returns with yet another entry in the exponentially ridiculous franchise that somehow still finds creative ways to make car chases fresh and exciting. F9 (aka Fast & Furious 9) follows Dom (Vin Diesel) and his crew as they’re drawn into yet another life-threatening global adventure to take down an international terrorist, who turns out to be Dom’s estranged brother.
As a fan of the current state of the Fast & Furious universe, this movie has absolutely everything I love about the franchise. It’s got the perfect amount of cheese, a wild story, ridiculous chase sequences and non-stop action, and all the while it’s self aware of exactly why people fill theatres to see every new entry. The best way I can describe it is that it really is exactly like a Marvel film. The characters are basically superheroes when you consider the situations they seem to walk away from without a single scratch – and that’s the charm. The action is big, loud and nonsensical, and the crossovers, references and plot twists involving previous films in the universe are all the trademarks of a large-scale MCU project. It’s come a long way from the days of the early 2000’s drag races – although, this film does attempt to bring back some of that flavour.
In regards to the narrative within this film, it’s absolutely wild! There are so many moving parts that there’s always three things going on at once that you have to keep track of, and it’s actually all told in a very cohesive, although nonsensical, manner. It keeps on moving through plot point after plot point, barely giving you room to breathe, while also keeping the pace at an impressively high level. Is the overall concept familiar? Sure. Are some of the explanations for how previously dead characters appear a little bonkers? Certainly. But, I went into this film expecting all of that – and so I loved it. The conflict and relationship involving Dom and his brother Jakob (John Cena) is obviously a major focus of the story and is told through a lot of lengthy flashback sequences throughout the film. These sequences didn’t weight down the pacing at all and were actually instrumental in strengthening their respective journeys. For the most part, the individual films in the Fast franchise can be seen without the context of other films and still remain cohesive and entertaining. That’s still true for this film, although there are some character subplots that will leave non-fans a little lost.
I mentioned that there are extensive flashbacks in this one, and the thing I love about these flashbacks is that they all seem ripped straight out of the early Fast & Furious films – you know, when they were about the drag racing. It creates a huge juxtaposition with that stuff and where they are now – swinging over cliffs in a car while evading missiles from militia helicopters. Some of the flashbacks maybe didn’t need to make the final cut as they’re not all that necessary, but they don’t hurt the film either way.
When it comes to the action, there’s no doubt it’s creative, fresh and absolutely ridiculous, but most importantly – it’s endlessly entertaining. The insane chase sequences that are littered throughout this film all put a huge smile on my face. Some will eye-roll at the completely unrealistic situations that take place. I, for one, got a good laugh out of every impossible stunt and it only made me enjoy it any more. You really can’t go 5-10 minutes without some sort of action sequence, and that’s really what keeps the pace moving so rapidly. Whether it’s a hand-to-hand fight scene or a car-flipping extravaganza, it’s entirely fun to watch. Furious 7 had the crew flying a car between the Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi and Fate of the Furious had a car chase with a submarine. The big landmark stunt in this one isn’t quite as action packed, but it’s certainly what the film will be remembered for.
The one thing that has led to the franchise’s success is not the action, it’s the family dynamic amongst the crew. Having Dom, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Mia (Jordana Brewster), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) all interact and team up for these action sequences creates some fun dynamics and plenty of avenues for comedy. I was worried the absence of Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham would take some of that charisma out of the film, but I didn’t miss them at all. Each one of the crew does their part to elevate the film, contributing to the humour and action in their own ways – each sticking true to the personalities of their characters. John Cena makes for a formidable villain. He’s not going to go down as the most memorable villain in the franchise, but he serves his purpose really well.
All that being said, I think it’s pretty clear that I really loved Fast & Furious 9. As mentioned, this was everything I wanted from a Fast & Furious film – bringing the action, comedy and insanity, while putting pure entertainment above almost everything else. The narrative may be all over the shop as it tries to further multiple arcs at the same time, but it’s still easy to follow and anything that doesn’t make sense you can just gloss over. It’s big, it’s loud and it’s very self aware about what people want to see, with tonnes of action-packed fun from beginning to end that both die-hard and casual fans are sure to get a lot of enjoyment out of.