Review: F9: The Fast Saga (2021)

Premiere Impressions

Yes, dear readers, the image above is indeed Dame Helen Mirren Tokyo-drifting a car with America’s favorite rectangle, Vin Diesel (I wish I knew the names of cars because knowing the actual car would make this joke funnier and build my street cred, but I don’t—I’m pretty confident it is not a Prius, though). Fast & Furious is back.

The ninth Fast film continues the story of Dominic Toretto as he tracks down his long-lost brother. Having spent many years living in the middle of nowhere with Ana-Lucia, Kurt Russell calls and…okay why bother with a plot summary. Cars go fast, laws of physics are furious.

F9: The Fast Soap Opera has everything you’d expect from an eighth sequel: bigger set pieces, unnecessary flashbacks, characters returning from past movies, characters returning from the dead, and John Cena. F9 is undoubtedly the biggest entry in the franchise yet and also the most melodramatic. The film serves up so much soap opera realness, it features the series’ second character to return from the dead. It also has the distinction of being the dumbest entry yet, but that is not a bad thing in this case. These movies always play best when they lean in to their own bonkersosity, and F9 makes sure to up the ante a bit more. Bungee-jumping a car with a grappling hook doesn’t seem super out of place for this series, unless you go back to the first film and remember this used to be a street racing film. No, really, they used to just race cars in these movies. Tyrese has a couple of meta lines of dialogue where they try to poke fun at the series’ nonsense, but they are out of place—no one in the audience is expecting this film to be STEM-approved.

F9 gets an extra dose of excitement from the guest stars. Charlize Theron deserves a shoutout for her commitment – she delivers some of the worst lines of dialogue with one of the worst hairstyles since Charlize Theron in the last movie with aplomb. Cardi B shows up for one scene—it’s very obvious the rest of her scenes were cut from the movie—and Cardi Bs. And then, you have Dame Helen Mirren and, I kid you not, one audience member actually cheered when she got her own vroom vroom scene in this movie. (Spoiler alert: it was me.)

Thematically, this movie is about family. I don’t know if that’s really what I would read from the film, but F9 makes sure to tell you the movie is about family no less than 64 times. There’s a lull in the dialogue? Someone says they’re family. Need motivation for a character? Something about family. Family? Family.

Besides the cars being all, you know, fast and furious, a lot of people (i.e., one coworker) have been asking me what I like about F&F. “That doesn’t seem like a movie you’d like,” they say often (i.e., they said it once in passing). Well, culturally, there is a lot of awesomeness happening here. F&F is one of the highest-grossing movies series of all-time, and it also has the distinction of having predominately actors of color in the leading roles. There is a lot of cultural satisfaction in watching the underrepresented take down the elite. F&F also does right by its women – they are either in the thick of it, or they’re running the technology that makes the whole operation run. F9 even features a set piece with some of the female crew members—Jordana Brewster finally gets to kick some ass—that doesn’t force the women to face off against other women, a common action movie trope.

Post-Screening Snippets

  • This movie is two and a half hours long, which means the runtime is neither fast, nor furious.

The Final Tea

          F&F wants to be a superhero movie so badly and thank the lord F9 finally figured it out. Sure, the characters have basically become superheroes after the past few movies, but in F9, the cars finally get superpowers. Yes, the freaking cars. Some kind of something happens with magnets and then the magnets become family I guess and then the cars can Magneto the hell out of other cars as they drive. Obviously, it’s nonsense, but it’s a hoot to watch.

GRADE: B+

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