F9: The Fast Saga Image

If you want a perfect example of a franchise that continues to live past its prime, look no further than the latest Fast & the Furious movie, Fast 9: The Fast Saga.  The series originally came from incredibly humble beginnings, starting with 2001’s The Fast and the Furious,  which was an admirable rip-off of Point Break with cars substituted for surfboards. These movies have always been big on spectacle, flimsy on plot, and yet surprisingly strong with the characters and relationships. Even if you weren’t a car or racing fan, there was enough in them to hold anyone’s attention early on. However, things started changing around the time 2011’s Fast Five hit theaters. With the addition of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s character Luke Hobbs, the movies blew up far beyond their previous popularity. Fast Five was the beginning of what I like to refer to as the “No gravity, no consequences” part of the saga. There was virtually no drama with any of the fight scenes because all the stars got high off their own testosterone and mandated in their contracts that they were not to show any signs of weakness or lose any physical confrontations.  The stunts became so insanely implausible that any sense of realism and groundedness went out the window. I’ve heard these films described as “superhero movies where the cars and family are the superpowers.” Some people liked this shift in direction.  I missed when the films were more focused and earnest, personally, but I can’t deny that these recent entries have their rabid fans.

“…something about a device that controls the world’s electronics and weapon systems…and blah blah blah, no one cares.”

Fast 9: The Fast Saga, the ninth main entry in the series, begins a few years after 2017’s The Fate of the Furious left off; Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are living off the grid and raising Dom’s son, little Brian. We get a flashback introducing viewers to Dom’s previously unmentioned brother, Jakob, who is played by John Cena. We learn about Dom and Jakob’s falling out throughout the film, but since the marketing is going super crazy on spoiling all the reveals, I’ll be vague about the details. Jakob, formerly in the employment of the mysterious Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), has gone rogue, and Dom’s team has been tasked with bringing him down. Dom is initially hesitant because Jakob is still “family,” but he soon joins the team, and then the film kicks into gear.

There’s something about a device that controls the world’s electronics and weapon systems, a satellite, a spoiled rich villain (played by Thue Ersted Rasmussen) with plans to hold the world hostage, and blah blah blah, no one cares. Anyone still interested in this series just wants to know if cars go zoom, explosions go boom, and is family still family. Yes, cars go zoom, lots of things go boom, and there’s still all the cringey and superficial mentions of family you could ever want in a Fast & Furious flick. If you still enjoy these films, you probably know what you’re getting yourself into. There are no major surprises (the biggest one was quite stupidly ruined in the early trailers), there are no direct references to Jason Statham, and The Rock’s 2019 spinoff  Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw or any of the things that that particular film set up. There’s nothing that pushes the franchise forward or veers it into an interesting new direction. If you decide to buy a ticket for this, you’ll get exactly what you pay for.

F9: The Fast Saga (2021)

Directed: Justin Lin

Written: Daniel Casey, Justin Lin, Alfredo Botello, Gary Scott Thompson

Starring: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, John Cena, Tyrese Gibson, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, Charlize Theron, Jordana Brewster, Kurt Russell, Hellen Mirren, Sung Kang, Lucas Black , etc.

Movie score: 6/10

F9: The Fast Saga Image

"…all the cringey and superficial mentions of family you could ever want in a Fast & Furious flick."

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