Film Review – Fast and Furious 9

Fast and Furious 9 (M)

Directed by: Justin Lin

Starring: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review by: Julian Wright

Something something family, car chases, explosions, logic defying stunts, something something family.

Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are living off the grid in isolation on a rural property raising Toretto’s son Brian, when the pair are drawn back into action with Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel).

Complicating this particular mission is the presence of Jakob (John Cenea), Dom and Mia’s (Jordana Brewster) long lost brother who disappeared in 1989 after their father – a race car driver – died.

Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell) has captured hacker Cipher (Charlize Theron), but his plane is intercepted and she has been extracted so it is up to the rev heads to track her down before two halves of a powerful machine can be put back together and used to hack into every weapons system worldwide.

Now billed a “saga”, this soap opera with cars and explosions continues to be a hoot and half, so long as you are willing to be on its wavelength.

The saga, now up to its ninth installment, post Hobbs and Shaw spin-off and now Paul Walker-less, certainly has its brand and formula down pat, leaning right into the family theme, which was always there, but now is used to spark motivations. Adding a long lost brother and dad killed by a fiery car wreck are both eye-rollingly obvious additions, but by this point, what were we even expecting?

But just when you think a series should be suffering from fatigue and it could not possibly thrill its audience any further, it goes ahead and adds in surprise after surprise. The first action sequence is so pulse poundingly exciting that it plays out as the climax and then still manages to top it later on. Having Justin Lin back in the directors seat is a genius move, he has a firm handle on this series.

The only thing the makers seem to struggle with is how to handle Paul Walker’s character Brian, who is alive and still part of the story despite the actor having died. This makes for some awkward scripting that the writers haven’t worked out yet. Where are everyone’s kids now when they are globe trotting, pulverising bad guys and flying cars over canyons? Oh, they get dropped off at Brian’s place now, as we learn in a throwaway line.

Apparently his conflict on deciding between crime fighter and family man were far easier to resolve than Torreto, who struggles with it for roughly 5 screen minutes.

We all giggle (ok, I cackled for 2.5 hours) at the family themed speeches and monologues, the melodramatic stare downs, chest puffing and Diesel squeezing out the occasional tear, but without these elements, which are actually part of the charm, there would be no heart or soul to any of the car carnage.

Even relative newcomers to all this ridiculous chaos, Helen Mirren and Charlize Theron (who is splendid in her best Hannibal Lecter impression), are in on the gag. If they get it, surely we can too.

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