Film Review: ‘Fast & Furious 9’ Marks The Start Of A Trilogy That Will End The Saga
Director: Justin Lin
Writers: Daniel Casey (screenplay by), Justin Lin (screenplay by)
Stars: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel, Charlize Theron, John Cena
Reports have circulated for months that the Fast & Furious series, which has lasted over two decades, is preparing to end. According to regular series director Justin Lin, Fast & Furious 9 marks the start of a trilogy that will bring the whole epic to a close. Although the film had to take a break during the pandemic, the newest instalment of the ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise is here, and more insane than ever. Just when we thought that Dominic Toretto couldn’t possibly find a way to blow up worldwide landmarks and expensive cars any more spectacularly, he does. In an action packed thrill ride not unlike the others, the storyline heavily focuses on family, camaraderie, and muscle cars.
Though I’ve never been a diehard fan of the franchise, I have to give Lin credit, for gradually transforming the series into a blue-collar answer to the Marvel films. Former thief and street racer Dom Toretto now heads an unofficial network of globetrotting heroes who routinely save the world through a blend of camaraderie, and extreme recklessness at the wheel. After the events of the last film, Toretto (Vin Diesel) and partner Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are hiding out in a farm with their son Brian. Who we have to remember although Paul Walker has passed away in real life, he is still alive in the series, which is why everyone keeps talking about ‘Brian’ but we never see him. With a visit from friends Roman (Tyrese) and Tej (Ludacris), Toretto is informed of another completely different high-tech doomsday device that is threatening the stability of the world. Now the Fast & Furious crew have to reassemble to stop it from falling into the hands of Cipher (Charlize Theron). Introducing the connecting factor to the ‘F&F’ team and the crime syndicate, enter Dom’s previously unmentioned black sheep brother Jakob (John Cena).
Dom’s team grows bigger this time around though as we see the return of another old comrade, Han (Sung Kang) who is back from the dead for the second time, but this time without girlfriend Gisele (Gal Gadot). Also insert previous cast members who almost disappeared off the F&F planet, Sean (Lucas Black) and Twinkie (Shad Moss), who you might remember from ‘Tokyo Drift’. I have to say I enjoyed there inception into the story, and also something we haven’t seen before in the franchise, flashbacks to the then teenage Dom’s day’s on the race track with his father and younger brother Jakob. You get to learn a bit about how they developed their passion for cars and what gave them the chips on their shoulders.
Justin Lin returns to the director’s chair (he is also the co-writer of the screenplay, alongside Daniel Casey) for the first time since 2013 for his fifth “go” at the F&F epic saga. As can only be expected, lots of stuff is shot up, blown up and pulverized, making for a special effects and stunt heaven. Among the action and demonstrating their driving expertise is Queenie (Helen Mirren). Losing Paul Walker during the filming of 7 I feel was a serious blow because with Walker around, at least some of the action had to stay human-scaled for him to be involved. You can say the F&F series started to drift off course when director Justin Lin (who directed numbers 4,5 and 6) left, or you can say it lost its way when Dom and his crew went from road-racing super-thieves to death-defying super-spies, but there’s little denying the fast and the furiousness has far from faded from the franchise.
The standout of ‘F9’ for me had to be Elle (Anna Sawai), who brought some incredible fight scenes and I wish Justin Lin had explored a little more of her character….maybe an opening for a spin off? With even the muscle cars that were originally central to the series sidelined, this is now almost entirely Vin Diesel’s show. Dom continues to find that his precious notion of family is his greatest strength and most vulnerable weakness rolled into one. Family is what keeps him alive, but it’s also what might get him killed. John Cena does a convincing job as the villan, but I also did predict what would end up happening with his characters story which makes me think somehow he might be added to the ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ mix.
In conclusion though what matters ultimately with ‘F9’ is it continues to make the saga feel bigger while it eventually brings it to a close. The world of “F&F” has never felt more out of control than it does here, but it does feel like it’s drifting in the right direction for an epic conclusion.