The fate of the Fast & Furious franchise may be reaching an end, but the movies continue to reach new heights and with Fast & Furious 9, it’s gone beyond and then some. What started out as a mindless action movie about street racing evolved into a franchise about family and a collection of heist movies that that involved tanks, submarines, jets and even rockets.
If you’re unfamiliar with the franchise, the films started out with a cop trying to catch a villain who turns out to be a good guy. Together they face off against other villains and cops and then those villains become friends, as did the cops and they all become one big happy family. Well, take that with a pinch of salt, as the family isn’t always happy and in the last 20 years, we’ve lost some, gained some and mourned for dead family members although in this latest instalment, we’re seeing a return.
Firstly, there’s a return of director Justin Lin, who took over with The Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift, and reinvented with franchise with Fast & Furious through Fast & Furious 6. Ok, if it doesn’t make sense, just know this – Lin didnt kickstart the franchise, but did the third one, Tokyo Drift, that did ok, and was handed the keys to the kingdom from four to six. Then he left and returns here.
There’s also a return for Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), who went rogue in the last movie and is back as the head of the family, and we also see the return of little sister Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster), who sat out the last one. We should mention, as revealed in the trailer, that Han (Sung Kang), also makes his return after having died in Tokyo Drift/Fast & Furious 6 but Fast 9 also marks another return, that of Dom and Mia’s previously never mentioned before brother, Jakob (John Cena).
Let’s get this out of the way – no one watches any of the Fast & Furious films for the plot and storyline and with over 20 years under its belt, the Fast franchise follows a similar formula – Dom and his family of racers aren’t the best of people, but there are actual bad people they have to stop, even if some of them are revealed to be good guys later. The one consistent bad guy so far is Cipher (Charlize Theron) who also makes a return, along with Queenie (Helen Mirren), as well as Sean Boswell (Lucas Black), Twinkie (Bow Wow), and Earl Hu (Jason Tobin), the last two who were last seen in Tokyo Drift, and all three chaps are now apparently rocket racer scientists, if that’s even a thing.
That’s right, there is a lot to unpack here and Lin does he best to satisfy the narrative needs, as well as his attempt to being the franchise back to what it always been about – family. With Dom being a big family guy, it doesn’t make sense that he mysteriously has a long lost brother, but again, it’s Fast 9 so we roll with it. Despite being blood brothers, Dom has bad blood with Jakob involving their dad’s death, with Jakob feeling emasculated and feeling left out of the family, and Dom thinking that he’s always right. Coming back after years of being chased out of the family, Jakob is ready to be the next Dom. Unbeatable, strong, powerful and undefeated by his enemies.
The movie largely follows Dom’s attempt to stop Jakob, who is on a search for the world’s most powerful weapon that will give him the ability to control satellites in space and every piece of technology on Earth. Said weapon has two components and a key required to use it spread out across the world, and within the first 20 minutes of the movie, we have cars flying across ravines and being snapped up by jets, so yeah, action told in Fast style, and viewers are taken on an adventure to London and other global locations with the rest of the F&F family made up of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), where they shoot guns, drive fancy cars and trucks, and wreak havoc on the streets. All the while, viewers get flashbacks of Dom and Jakob’s childhood to explain how and why the Toretto brothers aren’t on good terms.
Again, this trajectory has been done a number of times in this franchise. If we’re to be completely critical, Fast 9 doesn’t present a new story that we haven’t seen before. In fact, there is a little too much humour here at times, and some parts of the narrative border on the ludicrous, and we’re not even talking about their short jaunt into space. However, despite keeping to the similar and safe formula, Fast 9 exceeds the rest in how it executes its action, of which are done so in ways that are otherworldly.
Fast 9 is a crazy action-packed whirlwind that involves explosions at every corner you turn and stunts that defy the law of physics. From cars swinging from one location to another like it’s George of the Jungle or homemade rockets that look like my neighbour’s Toyota taped to a booster, Fast 9 lays out almost every possible stunt out there in our minds and the minds of crazies and laid it all out on the screen for us to enjoy. In fact, Lin and the cast recognise this very early on, and has Roman even mention several times that they are in fact, almost invulnerable so when the time comes for them to strap on the jet pack and blast off, audiences are not even upset or angered by the strange turn of events. You simply laugh as the out of the this world events unfold, and go along for the ride.
There are also several Star Wars references in F9, and given how this franchise matches up with the number of main movies made in that other huge blockbuster series, plus the short trip into space, we can’t help but think that Lin is giving himself a few hat tips here and there. But just as how Anakin can find redemption, so can the bad guys in this series.
If the movie was released last year, as it was originally scheduled to, we might pick apart the movie a little more but in 2021, Fast 9 is the type of hyped up, in your face, balls up action we all need, to bring audiences back in the theatres. This is not the type of movie you want to download to watch at home, as this is the flick to kick back and catch in cinematic glory, explosions and car flips, with twists and turns in between.
Most excitingly, the movie’s action is no longer focused on just Dom, or in previous movies where male characters like Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) get the spotlight. Mia (Jordana Brewster) and Letty, and even the fabulous Queenie, get some girl action going on in Fast 9. We can easily count the amount of times we’ve seen Mia kick ass with our fingers, so seeing Mia step up and fight – and we mean really fight – was nice to see, even if it’s with a sauce pan. Whilst Letty is no stranger to being part of the action, her motorcycle scenes in this movie are more than a match for any of her co-stars’ four-wheel drive. Queenie even gets a bad ass scene in a S$380,000 car chase down the streets of London, and we are seething with envy.
Action aside, another strong point to come out of Fast 9 are its characters. Fans have seen these characters evolve from their illegal street racing days to international spies and then to becoming parents. Knowing that the Fast franchise is reaching the end of the road soon, one can’t help but prematurely mourn the leaving of these characters that we’ve literally grown up with. Whilst main couple Dom and Letty passionately kissing in their early years amongst the almost-deaths and dangerous trips have fans cheering on for their success, the fact that these two could potentially make their son little Brian an orphan with one misstep has us even more engaged with them and the action on screen.
Speaking of Brian (Paul Walker), without revealing too much, the movie constantly refers to his existence in the world and it’s bound to pull at the heartstrings of fans who have been fans of Brian from the moment he infiltrated the crew back in the 2001 film. Side note: you must stay till the very end past the usual barbeque scene to catch a short special scene that will either make you feel warm inside or have you bursting out in tears.
And as for Han, his return makes sense, in the F&F universe sort of way so don’t ask too many questions. We won’t reveal how or why he’s back, since we don’t want to spoil the movie, but what we will say is that the movie was not at all convincing in explaining how Han is still alive after all these years and how his life in hiding is coincidentally linked with Jakob’s plans on reigning terror. But we’re not complaining though, because we’re just glad to see Han back again. #JusticeForHan has been served, and we want to see more of Han, and given the sweet little post credits scene that surprised even the cameo character, it perfectly sets up a F&F family reunion for the final, two-part movie to end the series.
With the main crew reunited, Fast 9 has everyone on their baddest behaviour, making it an action-packed movie that is a must-watch. Defying science, pulling at heartstrings and heading to space – we haven’t seen the Fast franchise as a rollercoaster like this and we 100% don’t want to come off it. With just two more movies before wrapping up, fans of the Fast franchise are bound to enjoy the little nods to its 20-year long history and prepare for a goodbye that is both heartbreaking and adrenaline pumping.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
With the main crew reunited, Fast 9 has everyone on their baddest behaviour, making it an action-packed movie that is a must-watch.
Story - 7.5/10
Direction - 8/10
Characterisation - 8/10
Geek Satisfaction - 8.5/10