'Fast and Furious' Is Back With All The Absurdity And Family Drama
By Dan Dubon | 6/28/21
Twenty years ago, no one knew the "Fast and Furious" franchise would still exist. However, nine movies and a spin off film later, the multi-billion dollar property is still alive. "F9: The Fast Saga" proved it still has places to go.
The Fast and the Furious franchise has its share of now-predictable problems, as we’ll see. But equally predictable—in a good way—is its steady emphasis on family, both in the traditional sense and in the way that close friends can become a sort of family, too. Dom and his crew see each other as more than partners in speed. They take care of each other, no matter what. As we’ve seen in previous entries in this franchise, family is paramount to the patriarch Dom and his friends.
This time around, some key family-oriented parts of Dom’s past get filled in. We’re introduced to his brother, Jakob, when both brothers are much younger and serving as pit crew for their race car-driving father. A tragic, fiery accident claims their dad’s life, and Dom eventually comes to believe that Jakob played a twisted role in that accident. Dom disowns his brother, telling him never to come back to their family—essentially the worst “curse” he could have uttered in a clan where blood and fealty are the highest value. The flashbacks continue throughout the film to show the tension between Dom (Vin Diesel) and his brother Jakob (John Cena). The scenes work well to progress the story, and Vinnie Bennett, who plays young Dom, nails his mannerisms. There's one point where he's driving and he does an eyebrow raise and it looks just like Diesel. It's a small part, but he does a really nice job with it. Even though the audience knows what happens in the opening flashback, as explained in the first film, the sequence proves beautifully shot and powerful. And the kind of heart that this franchise needed that was missing from both “Fate Of The Furious” and “Hobbs and Shaw”.
“F9" has a bit of a villain problem, as too many come to the surface. Cipher (Charlize Theron) is left over from the eighth installment, while Jakob and Otto (Thue Ersted Rasmussen) team up. While I enjoyed the back-and-forths between Cipher and Otto, there was no room for the great Theron to shine. Cena thrives when a film allows him to use his natural charisma. In "F9’, he's just a straight up bad guy for the most part. There's not much fun or interesting about his character.
Director Justin Lin returns to the franchise after a two-film hiatus and helms some awesome and over-the-top action set pieces. As absurd as some scenes are, they look really good. Also, you'll never be more entertained by a magnet. This is where the film thrives, with its popcorn action, fun and humor. Ever since Dom and Brian pulled a safe through the streets of Rio de Janeiro in "Fast Five," we want that entertainment. For the most part, every film since has delivered on that.
Granted, every film tries to jump a bigger shark. "F9" jumped a megalodon. The question is when does the absurdity become too much?
At 2 hours and 25 minutes, the film is definitely too long. There are a few scenes here and there that can be cut. As with most franchises, there are also characters and scenes used to lay the groundwork for future films. For the most part, the story works. It's not anything we haven't seen before, but for as much of a plot as a "Fast and Furious" movie needs, it fits right in.
Nine movies in, the "Fast and Furious" franchise is what it is. You know what you're getting into, so you either love it or you don't. "F9" won't do anything to change your mind, but fans of the series can smile. This is far from one of the best films in the franchise, but it's a step up from its predecessor and proves the franchise still has legs. The absurdity is at an all-time high, and F9 brings the absurdity and the family drama to an all time high. If those sound like things you love, this movie is for you.
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