You’ll realise that, yeah, this is precisely what we’ve been waiting for less than 20 minutes into Fast & Furious 9, when Dom and company are speeding across a minefield attempting to outrun the explosives.
Wonder Woman and Tenet In late 2020, 1984 may have delivered delectable bits of blockbuster-sized action, but so far this year has been devoid of any such moments. Both The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It and A Quiet Place Part II were excellent films, but neither included a car perched dangerously over a landmine.
When Vin Diesel gushed about “the movies” in a recent Fast & Furious 9 trailer, he was the subject of some humorous Twitter jokes. However, there’s no denying that the series, in all of its ludicrous grandeur, was created for the big screen, and only the MCU, perhaps, can rival it in terms of sheer scope.
It’s almost irrelevant that Fast & Furious 9 hasn’t turned out to be one of the series’ high points. Its release signifies that blockbusters have returned to their rightful place in cinema, and that every illogical stunt will be as cosy as a warm blanket.
Whereas “What if Dom went bad?” was the major hook in Fast & Furious 8, “What if Dom had a long-lost brother?” is the fundamental hook in Fast & Furious 9. Of course, Dom (Diesel) and Jakob Toretto (John Cena) chilling over some Coronas wouldn’t be much of a blockbuster, so Jakob had to be a bully.
When we see Dom again in the film, he is living off the grid with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and their kid, Brian. He’s soon pulled back into action to prevent his brother from obtaining a gadget that may transform the world as we know it, which isn’t exactly a blockbuster.
You’re not mistaken if that plot seems similar. Dom and his crew constantly appear to be going after some technical MacGuffin in the most recent episodes of the series. According to Cipher, this time it’s a “weapon so deadly it shouldn’t exist for another half-century” (Charlize Theron).
Fast & Furious 9 can feel a little old plot-wise, even with the extra wrinkle of a long-lost sibling, especially when several disclosures add to the impression of ‘been there, done that.’ There’s a delicate line between giving the audience what they want and just retreading old terrain, and you’re left wishing that the narrative had been given as much attention as the outrageous antics.
Though, given the previous year of uncertainty, comfortable familiarity may have some appeal. A Fast & Furious movie may seem like hanging out with old friends more than most other franchises, and F9 does not disappoint, with appearances from throughout the whole franchise.
Fans of Tokyo Drift will be ecstatic, and it’s amusing to imagine how newbies would be perplexed by Shea Whigham’s brief presence. They primarily exist as fan service, coupled with references to earlier films, so you won’t be entirely lost if this is your first time seeing the series.
Of course, Jordana Brewster’s Mia, who was absent in the last film, and Sung Kang’s Han, who was said to have been killed in Fast & Furious 6, are both back. The mysteries of how Han returns may not be totally satisfactory, and they have an unpleasant echo of’somehow, Palpatine returned’ from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Fans will forgive this since it’s so nice to see Han again, and you might find yourself crying when he reunites with Dom.
Returning director Justin Lin found Mia’s comeback to be lot easier to handle, but this isn’t the Mia who was placed on the sidelines in Fast & Furious 7.
The female characters are genuinely participating in the action this time, as Rodriguez had previously complimented. While the film may feel similar in some ways, it is a significant advance over previous instalments.
Fast & Furious 9 doesn’t perform so well for John Cena, the primary newcomer to the ensemble, since the film doesn’t devote enough time to Jakob’s adversarial relationship with Dom. Instead, the film becomes mired down in a series of boring flashbacks that explain why they split up. There are no significant discoveries in this episode, so it’s primarily there to fill out an already long runtime and highlight topics Dom has mentioned previously in the series.
Cena, on the other hand, gets to show off his great combat skills, and despite the film’s storyline faults, the action sequences never fail to deliver. One of the subtlest action beats in the movie is Jakob zipwiring about Edinburgh while Dom chases him down on rooftops.
When they’re fooling around with magnets and, at the series’ literal high point, travelling into actual space in an explosive climax, even the crew trying to outrun landmine explosions feels low-key. It’s absurd and illogical, but the Fast & Furious franchise has earned it through the years. (There’s also some amusing self-awareness here, as Roman doubts their own invincibility.)
They’re not simply performing these sequences for the sake of surprise; it’s part of the series’ DNA, and it’s a lot of fun. Is it really too much of a jump to have a rocket vehicle in a series where Han has come back from the dead twice?
If things had been ‘normal’ and Fast & Furious 9 had been released in March 2020, we may have been more critical of its excessively familiar narrative. However, because it provides the cinematic excitement that has been severely absent in recent years, it’s easy to forgive it for being so much fun.
With a two-part climax on the horizon (laid up with a wonderful credits scene here), we’re confident that the series can reverse course and deliver something new for the dramatic finish. Dom’s family, it’s wonderful to see you all again.