Updated: Sep 21, 2021
It is hard to imagine that The Fast and Furious has now rode onto the silver screen for 20 years. What started as a movie about crime and racing has become a successful franchise that continues to raise the stakes. Originally, I found the franchise to be too ridiculous for my taste, but I cannot deny that the series grew on me to the point where these absurd adventures have become enjoyable experiences. The series was last seen in 2017 with The Fate of the Furious, and then two years later with the spin-off Hobbs and Shaw. Now, after some delays, the series has returned as the crew rides again in F9 (aka F9: The Fast Saga).
The new film centers on Don (Vin Diesel) on another high speed adventure, but this time the outlaw must deal with his long-lost brother Jakob (John Cena) who is after a device that could destroy civilization. Returning to the director’s chair is none other than Justin Lin which makes it the fifth time the filmmaker has contributed to the action franchise. With a series full of crazy experiences F9 had much to live up and how this sequel went may determine just how much gas is left in this series. After crossing the finish line, it seems that there is a little fuel left in the Fast Saga as F9 was an exciting, albeit flawed, ride to endure.
When a franchise has nine entries to its name (ten if you count Hobbs and Shaw) it can be difficult to keep elements like storytelling refreshing. Thankfully this was not the case for F9-at least for the most part. While plot points like the crew going on a global adventure to find a world-shattering device was nothing new, the execution of these plot points made all the difference. Directions like splitting the team up was a good way to keep things refreshing while expanding the plot’s sense of adventure. Yet the one thing that has kept this series interesting to me has been its continuity, and F9 was no exception. The origin of Dom and Jakob was a nice touch by giving the plot a personal element while keeping true to the series' theme of family. Aside from its storytelling, the plot was a genuine thrill ride that made even the most absurd moments entertaining, and this story had some crazy moments-which in this series’ case is saying something.
The cast of the Fast Saga is an endearing element for the series, and it was good to see the ensemble was in full force for F9. Despite the character’s longevity Dom remained an engaging protagonist. Dom’s issue with his brother was a good way to give the character reasonable conflict as well give the lovable outlaw more layers to his overall development. As for the rest of the crew the characters had their moments. From the chemistry between Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) to returning characters like Mia (Jordana Brewster) and Han (Sung Kang) the crew was just as effective as they have been since coming together in Fast Five. Although that is not to say the crew’s outing was perfect. Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) was a little unclear in her direction as her motivation to back into the game was understandable, but her development only went so far. The cast also featured several returning characters like Sean Boswell (Lucas Black), Queenie Shaw (Helen Mirren), Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and Cipher (Charlize Theron); and despite their limited screen time each character brought the right amount of flare to the film. Last and certainly not least was John Cena as Jakob. While the troubled sibling was inconsistent in his progression Jakob made up for his shortcomings thanks to the charismatic performance of John Cena, and this was enough to make this new character feel right at home in the Fast ensemble.
Action is the fuel that keeps the Fast Saga running and it was in full throttle in F9. Between the crazy chase sequences and gripping fight scenes the action felt right at home with the rest of the series. The fight scenes were particularly good as its fast pace was matched by its keen choreography. Helping the action was none other than the film’s visuals. The cinematography was fitting for the series’ extreme demeanor, but some of the visual effects could be incoherent in execution. Aiding the film’s presentation was the movie’s soundtrack and score as both created familiar sounds that help shape the exhilarating atmosphere of the Fast Saga.
F9 is another exciting ride for the Fast Saga. While elements such as story and characters could be formulaic in nature, the execution was good enough to keep things refreshing; and as usual the action was too exhilarating not to enjoy. In many ways this installment was a strong outing for the series, but it is riding on shaky ground by bringing the series’ longevity into question. Regardless of what may be on the road ahead, F9 rides off in style as it was an enjoyable blockbuster fitting for both the franchise and the summer season.