Writing a review for F9: The Fast Saga seems almost pointless. The Fast & Furious franchise has been around for twenty years and in that time has churned out ten movies (F9 is the tenth), made billions of dollars at the domestic and international box office, and received pretty good critical acclaim. This is a franchise that has become a staple of the cinematic experience. Much like a movie from the Marvel Cinematic Universe or a Star Wars movie, people will go to the cineplex to watch Dominic Toretto and his family of globe-trotting, street racing robbers. I say it is pointless because no matter what myself, nor any other critic say, regardless of how big or small their outlet might be, people are going to see the next chapter in the Fast & Furious franchise.
But I decided to write a review anyway, because I have nothing else better to do. F9 is not a very good movie. In a franchise that has gleefully defied the laws of physics on numerous occasions, F9 has taken it to a level that has made these ridiculous, insane sequences no longer enjoyable and made me roll my eyes more than make me smile.
Usually in my reviews, I give a run down of what the general plot of the film is. Am I going to do that for F9? Absolutely not, because it doesn’t matter in least and there are too many plot points to keep track of.
Here’s what you need to know: Dom (Vin Diesel) has a younger brother named Jakob (John Cena), who always lived in the shadow of his brother and has been on his own since Dom was in prison when he was younger. Jakob is back now and he’s a bigger, badder version of Dom and he is after some key to a satellite that could cause complete global destruction. Dom and the gang must stop Jakob while Dom goes through a conflict of conscience.
With 2011’s Fast Five, a game-changer in the franchise, two things happened. The first was that the plots of the movies became very soap opera-esque. The films have dealt with amnesic characters, unknown babies, and past characters coming back from the dead, among others. F9 plays with two major soap opera tropes in the discovery of a long lost brother and the resurrection of an assumed-dead character in Hahn (not a spoiler, it was in the trailer). The soap opera plots always added a layer of absurdity in the plot in a movie filled with absurd action sequences, which felt like a perfect mend of chaos. However, the return of Hahn felt very forced, and this is coming from someone who loves Han as a character and thinks Tokyo Drift is one of the better entries in the franchise. But even with him in the movie, he wasn’t utilized very well and wasn’t given a cool “Han moment”.
The other thing Fast Five did was become a franchise about the group, or the “family”, and not Dom or Brian or any one character. The Fast & Furious franchise became an agro, hyper-bro Ocean’s 11 of sorts, where they were a wanted gang of thieves who always happened to get away with whatever they were stealing. This is what made Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, and Furious 7 so successful. We loved the team dynamic and we loved seeing them work together to complete their mission. But with The Fate of the Furious and now F9, we are dealing with Dom’s life and Dom’s past and it just isn’t interesting. I don’t think Diesel has the acting chops to add layers to a conflicted Dom and films turned into “what will Dom do?” films and not “how will the team get out of this?” films.
Some of the action in the movie was fun on the big screen. The final act is incoherent nonsense that is full destruction and chaos and took the film to a new level that might have sounded cool on paper, but was actually terribly stupid. My favorite part of the film was Roman Pierce, played wonderfully by Tyrese Gibson, and Tej, played by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges. Their dynamic was hilarious and I would not be surprised if the franchise decided to give them their own spin-off movie. Pierce also has the best bit in the movie, continuously questioning how everyone has survived all of the adventures they have been on and not get a scratch on them and thinking that they might be immortal or something beyond human. I honestly wish the movie focused on this element more because it was hilarious and added an interesting meta layer to the franchise, as it was a question we have all be asking for years.
I appreciate if you’ve read this far. I’m not sure if this review will sway you in anyway, since seeing a Fast & Furious movie in theaters seems like a must nowadays. But F9 is on the lower end of the of the franchise and if you exclude Hobbs & Shaw, it might be the worst. It isn’t exciting, it isn’t fun, and it barely registers as entertaining. The plot is all over the place and is one lover-is-actually-a-sibling plot twist away from being Days of Our Lives in high-octane cars. Though there are rumors that they are potentially making two more of these, you can feel the franchise is running out of gas.
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