F9 | Film Review

THERE WILL BE SOME SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW, BUT LET’S BE HONEST, IT’S A FAST AND FURIOUS MOVIE – YOU’RE NOT WATCHING FOR THE PLOT

RELEASED: June 25th 2021
DISTRIBUTED BY: Universal Pictures
DIRECTED BY: Justin Lin
WRITTEN BY: Justin Lin, Daniel Casey & Alfredo Botello
PRODUCED BY: Vin Diesel, Justin Lin, Neal H Mortiz, Jeffrey Kirschenbaum, Joe Roth, Clayton Townsend & Samantha Vincent
MUSIC BY: Brian Tyler
STARRING: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jordana Brewster, Sun Kang, Michael Rooker, Helen Mirren, Kurt Russell, Charlize Theron & John Cena

REVIEW: I wasn’t planning on writing about this film, as it generally doesn’t fit in with all the other stuff I cover on this site (superheroes, sci-fi and fantasy).

But as every new entry of the main Fast and Furious series gets that little bit more ridiculous, we’ve now reached the point where the F&F family are very much pulling off superhuman feats on the regular, and I can’t stop thinking about it.

F9 follows Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew after they are summoned by their shady handler Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russel) to stop a mercenary from obtaining a macguffin that will give them control over every weapons system on the planet. But as Dom and the crew close in on their mysterious adversary, they realise they may have met their match as the culprit turns out to be none other than Dom’s estranged brother Jakob (John Cena)!

To clarify, I’m not a big F&F fan. Yet, at this point, I have somehow seen the majority of the movies.

So while I’m not super knowledgeable about the franchise, I’ve seen enough to know the basics. And in my opinion, while the series may have found new life by turning into goofy action films, they may well have gone too far with the last two installments. And a lot of that comes down to Vin Diesel.

I’m not a Vin Diesel connoisseur. I haven’t watched Riddick or the Xander Cage movies. I don’t know a whole lot about him. But I do know about the clause in his contract that monitors how many hits he takes in these movies, as he doesn’t want to look like he’s ever taking a bigger beating than he can give out (especially compared to say the Rock and Jason Statham). And frankly, I think it’s detrimental to the series.

Car tricks aside, there are points in this film where Diesel’s character is pulling off superhuman feat after superhuman feat. He fights twenty guys, rag-dolling many of them around without taking any more than three, ineffectual punches. He plunges into a pool full of broken concrete and comes out unscathed. He tussles with the main villain of the movie, and although he does admittedly get roughed up, there’s no doubt that he could easily win the fight. At one point he pulls down a thick concrete roof by just pulling on two dangling chains!

We’re at the stage now where this guy would give half the Avengers a run for their money and it’s just not believable. Not that I expect believability from a Fast & Furious film per se, but the goings on in these films have become so ridiculous, that I can’t even suspend my disbelief enough to enjoy them.

What’s worse, is that Dom’s inherent superhuman abilities have also leaked into his teammates. At one point early on, an ally of his is surrounded by foreign military personnel, and riddled with bullets by at least 14 soldiers. Yet somehow, he emerges unscathed, having killed all of them in a blind panic. The film tries to shine a light on it, let you know that they too are in on the joke. But what they’ve done isn’t funny; as it just removes all stakes and tension from the movie within the first 15 minutes of its runtime (and it’s a long movie).

Let’s contrast this with, say, the Mission: Impossible series, of which I’m a big fan. In those films, Tom Cruise’s character does increasingly ridiculous stunts (not quite as ridiculous as in F&F, but not too far off). And yet, to me, those films remain enjoyable, because for one, a lot of those are filmed somewhat practically, so you know what you’re watching has an element of real danger to it. And two, Tom Cruise repeatedly takes a beating. He keeps going, sure, but not without set-backs. There’s still tension. There are still stakes. While you know they won’t kill off the main character, there’s always a chance that things could go very wrong for our heroes.

Yet, here, in F9, not only are none of the heroes in any actual danger at any point, but some actually come back from the dead, with little to no explanation.

Look, I’m not saying people shouldn’t watch or enjoy these films. They know who their audience is, and good on those people for having a good time with it. But to me, when these films care only about spectacle, and not at all about anything else, then what’s the point? And furthermore, where do they go from here? They’ve been to space in a car now (which unfortunately for the most part wasn’t even that interesting). How do they up the stakes?

And without other leading men like Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson or Jason Statham around, just how much further is Diesel’s character going to transcend into a Superman-esque character?

Even more irksome is that this alpha male machismo also makes Diesel’s character worse as a person. The entire conflict of this film is essentially kicked into motion due to a false assumption he made about his brother some twenty years ago. And while he comes to realise this, does he ever apologise or truly atone for his sins?

No.

Because saying sorry to your brother for ruining his life isn’t manly, I guess. Even though this film series is all about FAMILY (and ice cold coronas).

Okay, I think I’ve ranted enough here.

Outside of all of that nonsense, this film is exactly what you’d expect. Fairly substandard plot, occasional cringey dialogue and a lot of big explosive car action. Some of which is admittedly entertaining, but to me, was not enough to save the film from being any better than…

Thanks for reading! What do you think about the Fast Saga, should they tone it down for the next two, or keep ramping things up? Let me know in the comments below!

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