28th Jun2021

‘Fast and Furious 9’ Review #2

by Alex Ginnelly

Stars: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordanna Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, John Cena, Kurt Russell, Charlize Theron, Sung Kang, Anna Sawai, Helen Mirren, Lucas Black, Thue Ersted Rasmussen | Written by Justin Lin, Daniel Casey | Directed by Justin Lin

If lockdown life had slowed us to an almost complete stop, then Fast and Furious 9 or F9, hits the big red button connected to the NOS tank and injects us into a hundred mile an hour race. The speed of this film and action set pieces lunch us into a pace that doesn’t allow to slow down and see the franchise left logic behind a long time ago, and if you can accept that then it’s one hell of a ride.

The crew return for the latest instalment of the ever expanding world of the Fast and Furious franchise. Starting 20 years ago as a street race movie, almost “Point Break with cars” rip-off. Since then it has evolved into a gravity defying, super spy action franchise that has fully accepted and embraced itself for the franchise that it is. The thing to love about this franchise, especially once director Justin Lin got involved, is that he knows best what this franchise is. The film doesn’t expect to be an awards contender, it doesn’t expect to break ground or be at the forefront of the next innovation of cinema, the film knows what it is and where it belongs and Justin Lin has executed a wonderful example of bombastic, crazy, silly fun the movies are made for and begs you to see it on a big screen.

This time around it turns out Dom (Vin Diesel) has a brother played by John Cena, who showed a few years ago in Bumblebee (2018) he’s the next big thing from the world of professional wrestling, following swiftly in The Rocks footsteps. The new addition more than holds his own and slots perfectly into this world. In any other world this late family addition of an evil brother would be laughable and pull you right of of your theatre seat as you scream “No, I’m not buying this one”, but here it works perfectly and you’ll never bat an eye lid. Cena plays the evil brother, trying to out macho his big brother Dom, and when Cena and Diesel play off one another its genuinely fun to watch the two hulking men clash heads.

With the addition of the evil brother Dom must assemble the team once again as they hunt down the pieces to a device that could change the world (for all the wrong reasons). Our team can’t let this fall into Dom’s brothers hands, so the familiar faces are back to stop him. The regulars are as good as they’ve always been, fans of the franchise will laugh, cheer and maybe even cry as the banter and family dynamic return. In Justin Lin’s hands the dynamics work wonderfully and everyone has a role in the family. Again Roman (Tyrese Gibson) stands out as a highlight as he bounces off and contacts with his co stars with wonderful chemistry that’s been built over the last decade. Another highlight is in one returning character, one that has been included in the films promotional material, and his character is returning from the grave as we once again get to see the franchises best character in Han (Sung Kang). His on screen return gave me genuine chills and I may even admit I was filled with some sense of an emotional overload as his return is handled magnificently by Lin.

A true highlight for the film stands out in one place more than any other however and it’s in the movies flashback sequences. Where the two actors playing younger roles work brilliant and add an emotional layer to the film, with sequences that are directed with slightly more elegance and a tone that is more in line with the first film in the franchise. The sequences stood out from any in the recent Fast and Furious films, and made a great change of pace the film was asking for. I don’t want to say too much more about these sequences as they’re far better when they’re experienced first hand. Another stand out that has stood out in the last four films now since Fast Five is the way these movies handle their endings, and once again F9 ends in perfect Fast and Furious fashion. And stick around for a mid credit scene.

A few years ago the franchise looked like it was coming to an end with the films seventh instalment, as it reached a mature climax. However the tank rolled on and we got an eighth instalment where the wheels felt like they were starting to spin out of control and the road was starting to get lost. Now with Justin Lin’s return he’s managed to maintain the speed and steer the tank back onto the right path, for another fun and crazy instalment in the franchise.

There is probably not many better ways to go back into the movies this summer than this full throttle action packed thrill ride. You might not come out of this film smarter or wiser or with any sense of purpose but you will have a good time and you will need popcorn at hand, cinema is back and F9 is blowing the doors wide open.

**** 4/5

Fast and Furious 9 or F9 is in cinemas now.

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