F9 Review: Fast, Furious And Out-Of-This-World Stupid
Familia… assemble. Fast & Furious 9 is preposterous, out-of-this-world cinema. ‘It’s good to be back.’
The Fast Saga is bumper-to-boot inexplicable. How did a Point Break clone spawn eight sequels? How did it evolve from boosting DVD players, to drug cartels, to The Rock pushing away a torpedo, to cars literally going to space? Why does every vehicle act as a cushion when it’d cripple someone just as hard as the pavement?
Ever since 2009’s Fast Five, Universal’s Corona-guzzling Avengers have been breaking laws of physics that don’t exist yet, a quarter-mile at a time. With more than $6 billion under its hood, the franchise isn’t slowing down yet – so buy your IMAX ticket, hit the NoS and enjoy.
Settling down after their snowbound Russian escapades, Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are living quietly off the grid. No more ‘ride or die’, especially with little Brian around.
Such sedate existence is soon interrupted by Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), who bring a cryptic message putting them on a collision course with Jakob (John Cena), Dom’s little long-lost brother. Oh, and he’s working with Cypher (Charlize Theron) and the smarmy son of a dictator to get ‘a weapon so dangerous, it shouldn’t exist for a half-century.’ Go on, it’s fair to snort.
Plot has never been what’s held these films together (Furious 7 was probably the best so far, in that regard). So don’t expect a whole lot of well-written villainy from Jakob, nor much beyond typical yada-yada’ing from the screenwriters.
Gibson does his usual loveable shtick, Helen Mirren steals the movie, Cardi B is… there, the Tokyo Drift boys make a wonderful return, Han’s resurrection just about works, Theron outclasses the entire cast with every scathing line – ‘I bet all you wanted was a hug’ – and Dom talks about family. What else do you want?
Two entries since he last stood at the helm, the films’ best director Justin Lin has returned to orchestrate inventive, propulsive, brain-breaking mayhem. In that regard, he’s totally successful, with action somewhere between a ballet and demolition derby, and due spotlight given to the ladies of the saga, including the return of Jordana Brewster’s Mia.
Pre-warning, you will need to overcome the most flagrant disregard for gravity since Legolas in Battle of the Five Armies. Also, I won’t delve into the circumstances of the voyage into space, but I can say this: it’s somehow hilarious, cheeky and even a little touching.
Fast & Furious 9 is as much about the Toretto legacy as it is the franchise. Well-constructed flashbacks, smartly cast with younger actors rather than uncanny valley de-aging, have a grainy class to them. Brief racing scenes share a rawer Le Mans ’66 energy, and the melodrama isn’t too overwrought. Of course, it helps if you’re somewhat invested.
The trailers show Roman joking about the team’s ridiculous, death-defying antics. Surprise, this leads to the film’s biggest success: becoming self-aware without being obnoxious, acknowledging the silly heights the movies have reached without descending into farce. Fast & Furious 9 believes in itself; its stunts, its story, its family, no matter how daft their adventures may be.
Loud, proud and yes, fast and furious; F9 has its flaws, but it’s impenetrable when faced with joy so pure. Ah, the movies.
Fast & Furious 9 hits UK cinemas on June 24.
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