It’s commonly known that since Fast 5, where they were rolling around a safe on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, the series has been trying to one up themselves the same way that Mission Impossible does it with the extreme stunts they try to get Tom Cruise to do. It’s bizarre to think of how far the franchise has come since then, let alone since the first film in 2001, which was so firmly about street racing and stealing DVD players to the action packed, comicy story lines and set pieces on offer and I don’t hate it, because they can just do anything they want and it could work, something a lot of franchises can’t do.
F9 this time seems Dom and the gang come up and against Dom’s younger brother, Jacob (played by John Cena) who is working with a son of a dictator and Cipher, who are after a device to control all machines.
Despite the ridiculousness of some of the previous entries, F9 somehow feels like the most bizarre entry yet and there’s plenty of reasons. People go and watch these films because the films are stupid and fun, you can sit and switch off your brain for 2 hours, but this is a series that is 10 films into this universe. We already down that Fast and Furious 10 and 11 will be in the vain of Infinity War and Endgame, and never has this series felt more like a generic Marvel film than this entry. The action somehow feels like the most over the top it has ever been, but without having one specific set piece that will be overly memorable. I think the first big action set piece, that features the “tarzan swing” moment that we saw in the trailers is a decent piece and works and feels consistent, but after that any other action piece feels like it’s missing a punch. Maybe it’s finally that the film doesn’t feel like it has any stakes, we’d seen characters die and some have stayed dead, but the return of Han in a way that doesn’t make any sense, just means that even if someone dies, they probably won’t actually be dead so what’s the point.
I think this is the first one in the series to have flashbacks, which I didn’t mind to an extent but at this point, it really could have been it’s own film and I would rather that. The film opens with a long flashback to a younger Dom and Jacob and their dad, as we get to see how he died, a time period we continually flashback to, as an excuse to cover up any plot holes, as well as the question as to why he was never mentioned in any of the other films. A prequel film doesn’t seem out of the realms of possibilities in this universe and I’d be much more for that, than weird sentimental moments which don’t work because they have forced it, rather than the natural moments between the team which has been earned because we have followed them for so long.
Justin Lin is back directing after he directed 3, 4, 5 and 6 then passed the reigns onto James Wan for 7 and F. Gary Gray for 8. This was also the first one that Justin Lin has a writing credit on, and perhaps that’s where some of the problems come from. These films are stupid, that’s why we love them and they get by enough on the chemistry and charisma of the group, then you pair that with someone like a Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren, who are great and clearly enjoy their time in this franchise, and then you get Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham who are almost poking fun at themselves and their other movies with how over the top this is, but without them we are just watching average acting in an average movie. You notch up the acting to good then it becomes a lot more watchable and a lot better, John Cena is a solid get but we needed someone new on the team to ground them a bit, a return of Jason Statham’s character would’ve helped a lot or add someone like a Stallone, or Keanu Reeves or Denzel Washington, someone on that level would’ve added a lot. Speaking of Statham, they expanded the universe a bit with Hobbs and Shaw, a couple of years ago, I think just keeping that side of the franchise going they perhaps should’ve added Ryan Reynolds or Eiza Gonzalez to really cross them over.
I feel like I’ve said more bad than good but it’s enjoyable enough for what you expect from these films. There’s some good moments, particularly the first action scene is enjoyable and moments in the others that remind you of why you enjoy the series. I’m far too deep into this franchise at this point to stop watching. Bring on 10 and 11.
What did you think of F9?
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