June 25th, 2021
MOVIE: F9: THE FAST SAGA
STARRING: VIN DIESEL, MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ, JORDANA BREWSTER, JOHN CENA, CHARLIZE THERON
DIRECTED BY: JUSTIN LIN
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
You want ridiculous? Well boy does F9 have something in store for you. I would be the first person in line for anything that turns up the ludicrous speed as high as The Fast and the Furious series has done, and yet, now that I have it, I kind of wish it showed a bit of restraint. This is the fifth Fast & Furious movie that Justin Lin has directed and he’s still the right man for the job, but F9: The Fast Saga feels like the one where we’ve truly “jumped the shark”. Vin Diesel and crew are back for more high speed thrills and wild automobile stunts, only this time there’s more interest in fan service than actual service into the story. F9: The Fast Saga is like a nine car pile up, it’s loud, it’s exciting, and it’s a complete mess.
The plot picks-up a bit from where The Fate of the Furious left off, Dom Toretto (Diesel) and wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) have now settled down in the country with their son Brian. It’s peaceful and quiet, until Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) arrive with an emergency that someone has taken out Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), and stole a macguffin that controls power to all the world’s nuclear weapons. That someone is a person from Dom’s past, his estranged brother Jakob (John Cena), and he’s now teamed up with Otto (Thue Rasmussen), a wealthy prince with an army of henchmen. They are holding tech savvy baddy Cipher (Charlize Theron) as prisoner, using her as a pawn, while they’re set on taking down Dom and the rest of his Fast “family”.
It’s not that the plots of the Fast movies matter, but this one is all over the place. The screenplay is by Lin and Daniel Casey, with a story from Casey and Alfredo Botello, and this one lacks a true structure. My major complaint is not just fan service, but that we get all of the fan service. When momentum picks up there’s a flashback or a new backstory to a character, killing all the energy available. The argument can be made that F9 printed out every fan tweeted theory and agreed to include it in the story. The opening chase sequence is excellent, arguably one of the best of the series, but everything after that comes to a slow crawl. At two-hours and twenty-five minutes, F9 is hell bent on covering every base, tying up loose ends with Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), telling the backstory of why Dom and Jakob dislike one another, what happened to Han (Sung Kang), and even touching on the crew from the often forgotten Tokyo Drift installment. It’s not that I don’t want that, but not in place of wild stunts and thrilling action, something that F9 is extremely lacking.
That’s not to say that F9 isn’t fascinating. It’s the epitome of global Hollywood productions, with exotic locations, millions of dollars pumped into the sets, a great mixed cast of celebrities, and no regard for physics. This time they’ve gone too far. I wanted Han back and I was constantly calling for the crew to go to outer space. Now I would take it all back for a more coherent narrative, a story that focuses more on the characters that are in front of us, instead of focusing on everything we’ve seen before it. Fast 5, 6, and 7 was the high peak of these movies. F9 is certainly the base.
For me, this solidifies that the Mission: Impossible movies are the far superior series of wild action blockbusters. It may even be unfair to compare the Fast movies to the audacious stunt work of Tom Cruise, but when the pieces are there, established for us to be thrilled, that’s what makes F9’s failures greater. It seems to be making up the backstories as they go along, doing somersaults to make it all connect. The jokes from the gabbing duo of Ludacris and Tyrese are rarely funny, the only thrilling stunt sequences are the opening and ending, which involves high powered magnets. The biggest sin might be the pointless role of Charlize Theron, barely making a dent in the plot, and still stuck behind computers. It’s all just disappointing stuff from F9. The ride is sputtering and there’s little left in the tank. That doesn’t mean it’s the last you’ve seen of Dom Toretto and gang. This family rides until the wheels fall off.
F9: THE FAST SAGA IS IN THEATERS THIS FRIDAY JUNE 25TH
Written by: Leo Brady