About 20 minutes in Q9: The Quick Saga (huh?), it showed me what the franchise’s trick is: after they write every scene in the movie, they bring in a consultant who specializes in making moderately stupid scenes even dumber, and they do each moderately stupid scene in the movie even more stupid.
It’s the only possible explanation, and it’s also an insulting and lazy approach to making films, even checking films on the door.
Some people have enjoyed and continue to enjoy the franchise’s steady descent into insanity, and kudos to them (you?). Enjoying something that tries to admit its stupidity and yet obviously does not must be a special gift. I don’t mean to be offensive, but why bother with a movie that you clearly don’t care about?
F9 continues Fast and Furious The franchise’s efforts to wrestle with squinted eyes with explosive spectacle, sleazy humor, and Vin Diesel’s acting skills. Oh, and his painful attempts to keep his emphasis on “family” tired of about 17 sequels ago.
The family part that caused derisive laughter from the cynical audience I watched the film with at this point in the life of the franchise (there was a lot of laughter everywhere, which the filmmakers probably expected about 20% of) is evidence that that F9 isn’t as intentionally funny as some claim. Director and co-writer Justin Lin, who made the best motion picture in the franchise, Fast fiveShe plays every “family” scene and line of dialogue incredibly seriously, but all attempts to get serious are dull and almost nauseating to look at.
It doesn’t help, of course, that the writing is gruesome. The characters go out of their way to explain details through dialogue (though somewhat helpful as the film reintroduces characters I don’t really remember), the film relies heavily on terrifying flashbacks, and even if it’s more obvious making fun of yourself is so over the top it’s not even funny. The plot is tired too and introduces a previously unknown brother (John Cena) who can do everything Vin Diesel can do, but who is bad. Or angry. Or jealous. Or a spy. Hard to say.
Oh, and Charlize Theron is back to post her performance, perhaps in retaliation for her terrible haircut (luckily, she’s even allowed to keep her fancy earrings in jail).
All over F9 is over the top and larger than life, which is fine, but the franchise’s best moments come in front of several films. Still, Lin manages to scrape together some decent action sequences, most notably a reasonably creative climax with industrial magnets that literally make cars, trucks, and everything else fly through the air. Less impressive are the action scenes in which the filmmakers practically explain, “We don’t care and neither do our audience.” A scene in which John Cena drives his car off a cliff, only to be hit by a plane that falls out of nowhere to be caught in midair is ridiculously stupid, and that isn’t even the most disgusting moment on the scene.
Oddly enough, that stuff in space didn’t bother me.
Everything is exaggerated F9 also feels tired; the plot, the villains, the macguffin have all been done before. The main cast, led by Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, and Jordana Brewster, appear to be performing the moves. And Lin wastes John Cena, whose best talent is comedy, by turning him into a boring and overly serious villain with vague intentions.
F9 is a movie for fans of the last couple of entries – this review certainly won’t affect you (you) – but there are things like stupid and funny, however F9 is just stupid. And the dumber it gets, the harder it is to take care of those characters we’re supposed to take care of, or to feel a sense of real stakes when everything has gotten so cartoonish. Do we blame the advisors, right?
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise stated.