The Fast & Furious Franchise continues in a confused spectacle that is pure fan service but skillfully delivers the popcorn cinema action merchandise. Everything old is new again in F9. The plot delves deep into the Torreto family’s painful past while bringing back supporting characters from previous films. It’s a hands on deck reunion that erases the gullibility in almost every scene. F9 continues the trend of growing larger to an absurd mistake. This part takes muscle cars in a new direction. Which is ridiculous … until you realize Elon Musk actually made it.
F9 begins with a young Dominic Toretto (Vinnie Bennett) and his little brother Jakob (Finn Cole) who grapple with an unimaginable tragedy. Decades later in the present, Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) have settled in a quiet country life. Their isolation is broken by old friends. Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) delivered a disturbing message.
Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) goes missing after a seemingly impossible air strike. He sent an encrypted SOS specifically to Dom’s trusted team. A seasoned agent has targeted a dangerous secret. Dom quickly realizes that his brother (John Cena) has returned from the shadows. As he and Mia (Jordana Brewster) try to understand Jacob’s motivations, others re-emerge long-forgotten to tackle an extremely personal new threat.
Director / Co-Writer Justin Lin (Better luck tomorrow, Star Trek Beyond) returns with his fifth film in the saga, but only since Fast & Furious 6. With breathtakingly choreographed racing scenes, he raises the franchise bar again. The road and rail races in act one are incredible. Lin then fires the saltpetre for superhero territory. The invincible cast shreds villains as they wreak havoc in multiple exotic locations. Unfortunately, he lost me in the space factor on rocket cars. None of this is supposed to make sense. The plot is understood as a purely escapist entertainment value. But Lin crosses the bridge too stupidly with the space antics. At this point, you might as well travel to Mars or back in time because anything is possible.
The quick saga works because the sympathetic cast has become known. Roman, Tej and Ramsey provide the comic relief while the Torettos take over the drama. It’s a formula mixed with insane action that has been a lasting success. F9 spends much of the two hours and twenty minutes of running time in the past. This is the core of the narrative. The problem is that the younger versions of Dom and Jakob do not resemble their older self. John Cena is an animal of a man. It’s impossible to believe that Finn Cole could “grow” to that size. I can appreciate Justin Lin’s time in character development. But I’m completely confused by the casting of the younger versions. This misstep sabotages the dramatic core of the film.
F9 will have different reactions depending on how you see the previous installments. If you liked it Tokyo drift, then it will be fun to see these characters again. Others may think it’s a stale makeover or be confused because these characters haven’t been seen in fifteen years. Tokyo drift is my favorite Fast & Furious Movie. The franchise was literally more grounded back then. Despite major concerns F9 a recommendation for slick racing and nostalgia. Stay close during the credits. F9 is a production by Neil H. Moritz, Jeff Kirschenbaum, Joe Roth and Vin Diesel’s One Race Films. It will hit theaters in the US on June 25th from Universal Pictures.
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