F9: The Fast Saga Review

F9: The Fast Saga Review
8 10

PLOT: Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) can’t outrun the past when his long-lost brother, Jakob (John Cena) reenters the picture. Now one of the world’s most dangerous mercenaries, he breaks Cypher (Charlize Theron) out of the clutches of Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) to help him steal a device called Ares, which will let him hack into any computer system in the world.

REVIEW: A few weeks ago, our critic Jimmy O broke my heart when he gave F9 a lukewarm review. Could it be that a Fast & Furious movie was anything other than amazing??? Impossible! I was somewhat soothed by Jimmy when he admitted to me that he hadn’t loved every installment, so a glimmer of hope remained in the dark void that is my heart. Having seen the movie, I’ll say this - F9 comes close to being too over the top, even for an installment in The Fast Saga (as Universal is still calling it), but that said, I still loved it. Back in the day, they used to say a series jumped the shark when it got too crazy, but I doubt director Justin Lin and company would ever pay any mind to that adage. If there ever were a shark in one of these movies, Tyrese would probably end up riding it like a motorcycle. Heck, the shark would probably even become part of the crew…

In a lot of ways, F9: THE FAST SAGA is a bold move by Lin, in that they take things so far that it wouldn’t surprise me if the next film is straight-up sci-fi, as they straddle that line throughout. Several times in the film, Tyrese’s Roman tells the crew that he thinks they may all be invincible, as, despite their insane adventures, he’s never so much as gotten a scratch. He’s on to something as essentially they’re all superheroes at this point, and you either go with it, or you don’t.

Fast 9 attempts to be The Godfather Part II of the saga, with lots of flashbacks peppered throughout to explain Dom’s early years and how he and Jakob wound up estranged. It all relates to the story he told Brian in the first movie about how he almost beat a man to death after his father died in a race. You see that race here, with the young Dom played by an uncanny Vinnie Bennett.

It’s a lot of fun and not a bad way to dig into Jakob’s backstory, with him so obsessed with escaping Dom’s shadow he’s tried to one-up him at every turn. Cena plays him as a character pretty similar to Jason Statham’s Shaw, who’s MIA this time (although his mom shows up - once again played by Helen Mirren). The relationship works, and Diesel and Cena have good chemistry in that their styles of acting aren’t dissimilar.

Most of the crew returns, although the film suffers from the absence of Dwayne Johnson, who at one point had a nice push-and-pull vibe with Diesel, although they hate each other so much now even in F8, they shot them separately. I wouldn’t hold my breath for Shaw’s return outside of a Hobbs & Shaw 2. Jordana Brewster makes a welcome return to the series, although the excuses they keep finding to write Brian out are silly (there’s no way Brian - if he still existed - would let the mother of his children go off on a life and death mission while he chills at home with the kids).

Michelle Rodriguez, in a lot of ways, picks up the slack now that Johnson’s out of the picture, with her, essentially elevated to the second lead. Bringing her back from the dead in Fast & Furious 6 was probably one of the smarter creative decisions they made, as she and Diesel do pair up well. Once again, Tyrese and Ludacris essentially steal the movie as their adventures get even crazier. I like how Tyrese has become the comic relief, and they have fun with his new belief in the movie that he might actually be invincible. Nathalie Emmanuel finally gets to do a little driving, this time in one of the many chases, and seems to have a ball.

Of course, Sung Kang is back, and - for the sake of avoiding spoilers, I’m not going to go into his role here. That said, his return is welcome, and the way they resurrected him - well - sure. It’s fine. I’m glad he’s back. Theron only has a few scenes this time, with Cena getting most of the screen time as the baddie, and it’s cool to see Tokyo Drift’s Lucas Black, Bow Wow, and Jason Tobin come back in sizeable roles (I hope they get worked into the crew from here on out).

Of course, the usual criticisms of the series still stand - with the chases so over the top, they’re not even slightly believable, with CGI lending a huge helping hand in everything from the chases to the stunts to the fights. John Wick and Mission: Impossible this ain’t - but at this point, Fast & Furious is its own thing, so you either go with it or you don’t.

And, of course, the whole thing is anchored by Vin Diesel, who - I have to say - you need if you’re going to do a Fast & Furious movie nowadays. Hobbs & Shaw was fun, but it suffered from a lack of Vin, as silly as he can sometimes be. If I don’t hear his gravel voice talk about family at least once, well, then it just isn’t the same (I’d wager only Tokyo Drift managed to pull it off). I unabashedly love these movies, and I’m happy that I got not only to see it - but see it in theaters!


Source: JoBlo.com

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