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What Went Wrong With… F9 aka F9: The Fast Saga aka Fast & Furious 9 (2021)?

An F9 key on a computer keyboardSeemingly working their way through the function buttons of a keyboard, F9 is the latest film in the Fast & Furious franchise. The plot of this, the ninth movie, doesn’t need much of a synopsis as most of the series is now a convoluted shambles akin to soap opera, and any narrative is only present to bring fans more outlandish and unbelievable car chases and action set pieces. F9 adds a subplot or origin story about Vin Diesel’s character Dom and his brother Jakob played by John Cena. If you’ve watched the previous films, you’ll know that bringing familial nonsense into the mix is kind of the franchise’s thing, along with reincarnations and ludicrous, physically impossible action. In that respect, everything including the worst parts of Fast & Furious 9 is adhering to the franchise’s soul. A cameo by Cardi “Everyone’s Forgotten I’m Racist” B is akin to casting Rita Ora’s bad-acting-arse, and the mediocre soundtrack including Skepta, Pop Smoke, A$AP Rocky, Juicy J, and Project Pat’s “Lane Switcha” (with its embarrassing wannabe “Broken Language” hook) is on-brand given the series’ history of corny, played-out muzak in films 1 through 8.

Dragging together almost all of the cast from the previous installments (minus Paul Walker for obvious reasons and Gal Gadot who was killed off) F9 is nostalgia for fans and sheer boredom for everyone else. With constant flashbacks to Dom and Jakob’s childhood, the majority of the film is like if Lifetime made a James Bond movie. With some nonsense about an Aries device having to be thwarted (which had to be one step more dangerous than the previous God’s Eye) the plot is, for lack of a better word, stupid. That being said, you’d think that spies and technological Armageddon would lead to non-stop thrills but it doesn’t. The film is action, slow drama, action, slow drama… there’s a jungle/forest car chase then a lull which lasts until the Edinburgh car chase followed by another very long lull and then the final car chase in Tbilisi. These action intervals are far too long for the viewer to be kept interested; that is unless you watch the entire thing as an unintentional comedy and look out for the risible elements:

  • Dom is inexplicably bald, even when he was in his early twenties

  • Roman (Tyrese Gibson) runs away from gunfire

  • Falling onto a car bonnet, sorry hood, is apparently softer than mud or dirt

  • When goodies and baddies drive over a land mine at the same speed, only the baddies’ vehicles blow up

  • Justin Lin and co. don’t seem to realise that unlike the majority of the United States, if you punch a wall or knock your head into a door jam in the United Kingdom, it’s not just 2×4 and plasterboard; you’d be knocked unconscious by the stone, brick, or steel RSJ

  • Cipher (Charlize Theron) is kept in a perspex cage but there’s no toilet or sink which means it wouldn’t be clear for long

  • A street race in 1989 features a “flag girl” wearing trousers which means the ’80s was less sexist than the G-stringed late-’90s and ’00s (actually that one might be true).

  • Even though it’s a decoy, there’s a van with “Interpol” written on it!

This last one made me laugh. Interpol is an agency of cross-border police cooperation, there’s no bloody vehicle they show-up in 🙄. Even though it wishes it was Mission Impossible, Fast & Furious 9 is therefore closer to Muppets Most Wanted (which apparently also had an Interpol car). Given the daft plot about travelling to space in order to 9/11 a satellite, F9 clearly has delusions of grandeur. The set-ups and general storyline is intentionally or unintentionally presented like a cartoon. If nobody can get hurt, if dead people can come back to life, where’s the peril? And what’s the point?

Fast & Furious 9 has been out in a few countries including China, South Korea, Russia, and Saudi Arabia since May but Europe and North America has had to wait until today. Judging by the audience at my local cinema, the numbers seem to be back to pre-Covid or at least pre-Tenet times. Without any blockbuster competition, Fast & Furious 9 will most likely be a massive hit but it doesn’t really deserve to be, given that 80% of it is shite.

The acting is typically mediocre with most of the cast in made-for-TV mode. Charlize Theron is either given two of the best lines in the film (one about Genghis Khan’s brother and another about Yoda) or she’s the best actor there and can therefore deliver lines like a pro. Ignoring The Old Guard, I’d say it’s the latter.

Directed by Justin Lin (who directed three, four, five, and six) this is as boring as 3, 4, or 6, if not more so. Even though F9 is about car chases, this isn’t Jan De Bont’s Speed. This isn’t even Fast 5 with its impressive safe-theft-slash-car-chase. Furious 9 is almost entirely dull with the exception for the final magnet/armoured articulated truck chase. A post credit scene involving Hobbs & Shaw‘s err… Shaw (Jason Statham) and Han (Sung Kang) means there’s more to come, and after a quick Googling, I can confirm that whether you want them or not, the tenth and eleventh are in the works, and all I can say is…

Nein!

Writing: 3/10

Directing: 4/10

Acting: 4/10

Overall: 4/10

8 replies »

  1. One thing I don’t understand is if Brian doesn’t go on missions because he is a dad why does Dom still go now that he has Brian Junior??

  2. I’m still laughing at Dom leaving baby Brian on his own in the cellar for the majority of the film.

    The film showed us at the start they live isolated and clearly no baby sitter or extended family 😂.

    Roping swinging a car off a mountain ledge.. Just crazy

  3. Agree to all the above but what I noticed also was the overproduced visuals, the needless facial close-ups and an overall look in the cinematography that was sterile. Compare the crowd scene look at the castle in F9 to the crowd scenes in F5. A different filming/camera format/technology made for less immediacy, less rawness in look. This is a F&F movie, it doesn’t need a polished look.

  4. Less sexist in the 80s? It was sexist to suggest women needed to cover up. It’s sexist when they don’t cover up, and now they should cover up.

    Stop it. This watering down of sexism to score some social credit points is so boring.

    • Talk about missing the point. It’s sexist to reduce a woman to merely a sex object which the Fast & Furious franchise readily did. Now in the present day, when sexism is no longer in style, the same film makers cover women up, including in scenes set in the past. Since the Fast & Furious franchise began in 2001 and everyone was fine with the men being butch racers and women being g-string wearing flag girls, it was a step backward from the equality feminism of the actual 1980s. Hence it was less sexist in 1989 in the film and in the real pre-Fast & Furious world. For fuck’s sake, maybe read the bloody thing before acting like one of those typical anti-“political correctness and woke” twats (unless of course, you are).

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