F9

Dominic Toretto is leading a quiet life off the grid with Letty and his son, little Brian, but a new threat will force Dom to confront the sins of his past to save those he loves most. His crew joins together to stop a world-shattering plot led by the most skilled assassin and high-performance driver they’ve ever encountered: a man who also happens to be Dom’s forsaken brother, Jakob.

F9 will fulfill the fans and audience’s expectations of adrenaline-pumping, large-scale action the franchise delivers. But is it enough this time around? The answer is — the movie is best when focused on the action set pieces and excitement, but the theatrical experience is strictly needed. And the Fast & Furious saga was built just for that. Justin Lin, who directs for the franchise for the fifth time, understands the massive grandeur necessary to experience the action. He directs expensive, impressive stunts that will get you excited — when you don’t think about how they obey the laws of physics. He also brings back the comedic, irreverent sense these films need which I don’t think Hobbs & Shaw managed to nail without becoming too parodical. The comic relief in this series has always been Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris as Roman and Tej and they give so much to this movie with their humorous banter. However, it’s the villains that bring the fun to a halt. Charlize Theron, who’s normally one of my favorite actors, is terrible once again as Cipher, but at least in the last one she was imposing and raised the stakes — here she does almost nothing. John Cena’s performance also didn’t work for me — and neither did lots of the supporting cast shoehorned in from previous films. The villains’ plans and objectives are also boring and not treated with enough care for the audience to even feel like there is a real possibility of danger. Tej and Roman even comment on the fact that after all they’ve been through in these films, they feel “invincible”. And whenever the movie tries to connect to predecessors and tie up “loose” ends with exposition, it feels incredibly heavy-handed and unfitting, and often just there as fan service, especially a certain character who is brought back. This excessive use of flashbacks feels like a pause in the story rather than world-building as the movie believes it is.

F9 continues the growing expansion of the series which started as films about street racing into what they are now, enormous, expensive superhero movies. Logic has been thrown out the window for a lot of the action sequences in this movie, but Lin treads the line between practicality and splendor to keep the audience there with the nail-biting and excitement he wants to deliver. And as said before, the comedy is very important here and he handles that well too. Whenever the script inevitably takes itself seriously at times, though, with big twists and tiring cliches, it becomes a checklist of a formula that the series keeps repeating. The franchise’s reputation has given fans room to laugh both with and at the story, but that’s only excusable with a series that has evolved so expeditiously without truly alienating any demographic of moviegoers. The first 30 minutes are genuinely great and the action gets the audience going and laughing, and the loud action throughout will get you excited, it’s just the series’ character development that feels like it’s given up on truly reinventing the wheel. After all, the saga is notorious for Vin Diesel’s “family” mottos. Although its mostly what you’d expect from this franchise, perhaps for the Fast Saga, that may as well be enough — especially when the scale keeps aiming higher and in a consistent direction that graps onto what its audiences want from an enormous, irreverent theatrical experience like this.

F9 film poster.jpg

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