Movie Review: ‘Fast and Furious 9’

Director: Justin Lin

Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Helen Mirren, Kurt Russell, Charlize Theron, Michael Rooker, Thue Ersted Rasmussen

Plot: Dom Toretto and his crew of street racers turned international super-spies are on the hunt for a new super powered MacGuffin. This time around he’s up against his own brother.

Review: These movies are difficult to review. By their very nature they’re immune to criticism, because critiquing a Fast and Furious movie implies that you’re taking it seriously. Any attempt at criticism them fetch the response that they’re just fun, they’re just spectacle, if you’re trying to offer any criticism you’re missing the point. That’s fine, but it does make this part of my job difficult. I mean, we’re doing our best to switch off our analytical minds and strap into the roller coaster but they’re really starting to push their luck.

Vin Diesel returns to his own personal mythology to play Dom Toretto, a man to whom physics has no meaning, with a new mission involving a ridiculous stunts, betrayals and seemingly dead people coming back to life. Dom’s hitherto unmentioned brother Jakob (Cena) has arrived on the scene and is a major player in the international spy business. He’s on the hunt for a miniature Epcot ball that has the power to take over computers or something. Along the way, Dom and his team drives cars and uses gadgets to perform ridiculous stunts. It’s a bit surprising that Dom’s backstory about his father is coming back into play after not being mentioned since the original movie, and it doesn’t add any more to the stakes. We’re familiar with the routine – some bad guy turns up, has some past link, and then joins the ‘family’.

Where this movie stumbles is in a lack of purpose. It feels like we’re just going through the motions and filling the time until the big 10th adventure. They bring back Han (Kang) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) pops up during the credits so they’ve got all the main players back. Evil hacker Cipher (Theron) lurks around in the shadows as some kind of big villain who doesn’t do anything. At least they got rid of the awful looking dreadlocks, but now she has a terrible bowl cut. While they’re getting all their ducks in a row, the actual events of this movie fade into the background. There’s no villain – Cena gets his redemption done early and Theron just hangs in the background. We’re left with some rich creepy guy who has no impact on the story. The main thrust of the story involves finding this special computer hacking ball, but that feels like an after thought.

Somebody must have explained to the writers the concept of lampshading, drawing attention to plot points and logical inconsistencies as a thinly veiled attempt to excuse them. It works best when used ironically, but in this movie the characters can’t stop talking about how crazy these schemes are and how strange it is that they never get hurt. It doesn’t matter how much to try to acknowledge it, this is a movie where Vin Diesel drives a car off a cliff, grabs a rope with the car tire and swings across a chasm. For fucks sake, they literally strap a rocket onto a car and drive it into space so they can hack a satellite.

Now that I’ve gotten all that out of my system, what lasting impression did Fast and Furious 9 leave us with? Two things. Firstly, the big action scenes are based around super electro-magnets and it’s constantly frustrating that the magnets ignore all metal that isn’t plot relevant.

The second is that Vin Diesel makes a very pouty looking face when he’s trying to look angry.

Rating: FOUR out of TEN