Fast & Furious 9: Film Review

Fast & Furious 9

Courtesy of Universal

If you like your Fast and Furious movies silly, ridiculous and illogical then you already know you’re going to have a great time with Fast & Furious 9, also known as F9.

So, here I go trying to explain the plot: Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are retired and living a quiet life on a farm when they are summoned by a video message from Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), who informs them that he had captured the villain Cipher (Charlize Theron) but then his plane was attacked by rogue agents. The team – also consisting of Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) – go to help and discover one half of a device named Aries, which can hack into any satellite or computer system when paired with its other half and an activation key. After Dom’s brother Jakob (John Cena) rocks up and steals the first half, the team must track him down and make sure he doesn’t get the other pieces.

It’s pretty tricky to review Fast and Furious in the same way you’d review anything else because they’re a whole different beast. You know exactly what you’ll get going in – high-octane action, fast cars, ridiculous stunts that defy the laws of physics – and that’s almost become their appeal nowadays. Heck, the audience at my screening whooped and applauded at the big dumb setpieces! You just have leave your mind at the door and laugh at how insane it all is.

Taking all that into account, the ninth instalment is still definitely one of the weaker ones. Sure, the action is absurd (that’s nothing new), but my biggest issue here was mostly to do with how flimsy the plot was. It is so thin and forgettable – it’s generally just Ramsey dropping the next load of exposition to get the actors from one cool location and action setpiece to another. This time they bring in electromagnets to mix up the sequences and I like that they’ve given us something new, even if their usage is very inconsistent. But, you know, all the characters seem to be invincible despite the death-defying stunts, so I shouldn’t be expecting realism. The films have become less high stakes as they’ve gone on as nobody seems to get injured or die anymore and if they do, they miraculously return at some point anyway!

Surprisingly though, this film tries to give us some character depth and delivers backstory on the beef between Dom and Jakob via frequent flashbacks to them in relation to the death of their dad. Vinnie Bennett was well cast as the young Dom but I couldn’t stop laughing at Finn Cole from Peaky Blinders being a young John Cena. That didn’t work for me. I can appreciate what director Justin Lin was trying to do with these scenes but it sometimes felt like I was watching two different films.

Diesel is the man who runs the show but he is actually the most boring to watch onscreen in this, with Rodriguez coming in close second. Outside of the action sequences, in which they’re very physically capable, they just have this brooding and serious presence and not much else. So bland! I also think it’s hilarious they just decided to give Dom and Mia (Jordana Brewster) a brother after nine movies! Jakob is pitched as their toughest nemesis yet but Cena doesn’t have a threatening presence, not compared to Theron’s cold and calculating Cipher (who is wasted this time around).

There are some wins for the ladies though. Brewster has been given an upgrade and gets to do some stunts of her own, Helen Mirren is back for a fabulous but completely unnecessary car chase, and Ramsey is given much more to do. She’s my favourite of the ladies and I like that she’s the brains and tech whiz of the team, is funny, and is getting more involved in the action sequences.

But my favourites overall are Roman and Tej. They are the best because they lean into the silliness more than any of the others. They offer up fun, levity, personality and humour in a film often devoid of it, bring much-needed comedy and lightness to proceedings and they make me laugh the most. The space gag wouldn’t have worked in other hands and I love how they point out the ridiculousness of events like the audience would, with Roman getting to the bottom of how Han (Sung Kang) is alive, asking the questions we needed (it still doesn’t make much sense but just roll with it). If you’re a fan of Tokyo Drift, make sure you keep an eye out for some of Kang’s old co-stars too.

Fans of the Fast franchise will probably eat up this instalment in a heartbeat, even if it is weaker than numbers 7 & 8.

In cinemas from Thursday 24th June

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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