At this rate there’s going to be more Fast & Furious films that there are Bond films. Think of it this way, if it wasn’t for the pandemic, I be review Fast and Furious 10 instead. To me, this is one of those film franchises that that you can’t quite believe how long it’s been around for. The first film was released in 2001! Those were the days when alongside this film, we were introduced to Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft and a memeable green ogre. Of course over the years the franchise has evolved and being someone whose first taste was the Hobbs and Shaw spinoff, I was eager to understand how this franchise has become the 7th highest grossing film franchise of all time.
The series to me has no straight trajectory in terms of continued success, it feels that these films are very much hit or miss with every release. So if I were to watch F9 as someone who has been living under a rock, I would say that F9 wasn’t quite what the franchise was at it’s peak, but I can understand how this appeals to the average cinemagoer. There’s a huge emphasis on the elaborate action and how elaborate it can get, but there is a family element at the films core. There is a lot of wrestling between these two factors for the centre spotlight but you’d be hard to find any sort of family theming in F9 apart from a couple of instances, the action occupies the centre of the stage.
Starting with action, if you explained to someone that F9 has a lot of car action, they’d probably paint an image in their mind of intense car chases. Let me tell you that F9 is way far from its humble origins of illegal street races, the car chases in F9 are frankly cartoonish in nature, however I do appreciate the creativity applied in them. Dom (Vin Diesel) and his family pull off stunts that would simply be impossible to pull off in the real world, but in a way that’s the thrill of an action film, pulling off the impossible. At first it threw me when the film incorporates science fiction tech in its chases, but I felt that these were the most visually impressive moments of the chases. For instance, two of the three main car chases use magnets to pull cars, motorbikes, guns etc. towards them making for some very destructive scenes. There’s even one scene where a van that has these magnets crashes straight through a building, impossibly impractical in the real world but in F9 it is a standout moment in terms of what the filmmakers can do.
Onto the family side of the film and to be honest, these characters aren’t exactly too memorable apart from Dom obviously, but the comedy duo of Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris) have an abundance of chemistry together. These two are in the film to serve the comic duo dynamic, but I also think they are there to laugh and point at the films own ludicrousness. The fact that the family has gone through many, many high intensity missions in the other films and have always come out unscratched is a point brought up several times. It’s like with these characters the film is attempting to be meta and it frankly works. Good chemistry is good chemistry, you can’t fake it. Who knows, maybe they’ll get the Hobbs and Shaw treatment.
You almost get the sense that F9 isn’t quite ready to move on from the family theme. It just can’t find the room between all the insane action. I can remember back in 2015 and the release Furious 7 when the series hit an emotional all time high with the tragic passing of Paul Walker, that ending was talked about for months and to me, demonstrated how the filmmakers could really hit the nail on its core theme. It’s quite remarkable that in just two films, people have to dig really deep to find even something that remotely resembles the emotions we felt those years ago.
Justin Lin directed F9 and he is a Fast & Furious veteran, having directed the Third to Sixth films of the franchise. Despite the over the top action, the man can at least direct action. Although I probably would have liked to have seen less collateral damage caused. I swear, the good guys cause more destruction than the bad guys, Dom like to talk about how he protects his family from harm but he’s not exactly a man of the people is he? Saying that however, I do think Justin Lin went a bit mad when he decided on a space scene. Oh did I not mention, there’s a scene in space.
F9 is a bit like a film you would choose if you were talking a child to the cinema for the first time. If this were a infants book it would be called “My First Action Film” because that is essentially what F9 boils down to. It doesn’t require too much thinking, you don’t need to identify anything deep woven into the story, you just watch and hopefully enjoy it, if you don’t find the action sweet, the popcorn accompanying you will suffice.
Final Result: 4/10 – Below Average
Have you seen F9: The Fast Saga? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Freaky