Fast & Furious 9 Review
A series that, at the very least for a short time, seemed to focus on the nitro-injected street cred and grease monkey car culture The Fast & Furious movies really only feature two gears. Fast and become frenzied. Stunts have become larger, more polished and faker and more flims, but even at their most raunchy they've always been fast and dangerously so. In addition each utterance of family from Vin Diesel's mouth has a profound solemnity about it. This is the most exciting part. In the past 20 years the plots have devolved into a saga of spy-games that span the globe and the muscle cars have certainly taken off, sometimes using their own parachutes however, the melodrama with a white-hot tone has seen its popularity rise exponentially.
Director Justin Lin, who perfected the formula in 2011's hilariously stupid Fast Five, is back in charge following a break of two laps during which the production was wrestling with the tragic loss to co-star Paul Walker and some intra-actor humor. Lin's Fast & Furious 9 feels like a revival. It's not just the snorts talking. (It's an exhilarating experience to be in the presence of something massive and loud.) This film goes back to the basics even if it does go off the rails and into pure slapstick — nearly unredeemably at times -it's got an ethos that it.
We start in a flashback. It's 1989. A terrifying raceway accident is about to kill an ordinary driver. Two of his teenage sons are watching in the pit. One of them is the young man who, a million pull-ups later, will be Diesel's grouchy Dominic Toretto. There's also an older sister, Jakob, who may be the one to blame for the accident. It's precisely the kind of suspicion that leads to decades of conflict and, hopefully an interesting villain for the sequel. The adult Jakob is played by a very smarmy John Cena, effective in comedy films like Trainwreck however not intimidating enough to make the right antagonist to the granite-faced Mount Vin.
Lin's Fast & Furious 9 feels like a rebirth.
But a hot center of domestic tension is in place (family!) and you can forgive the awkward plot mechanics that bring back Jakob as a villain, financed by a vulgar billionaire millennial named Otto (Thue Ersted Rasmussen) who would like the two halves of an orb-shaped black MacGuffin to control the defense systems around the globe. Already Lin and screenwriter Daniel Casey are bored with the story and are a bit bored by it. A little less than 30 minutes into the film and we're racing through an Central American jungle over exploding landmines, navigating a series of treacherous rope bridges and sling-shotting cars through mountains on wires as if a slapdash rendition that was a spoof of Raiders of the Lost Ark's first scene that was filmed with vehicles rather than people.
These films can be very hard for actors, or at least those who are committed to acting. For the majority the duration of F9, Charlize Theron -who's mesmerizingly boring terrorist Cipher is back from the previous film — is in a box made of glass with air holes and acts as Hannibal Lecter. The film isn't sure which way to use her. However, Michelle Rodriguez, as Dom's long-time lover, Letty, still seems to be on a post-Widows-like roll and fleshing her motorbike with glimpses of emotional depth even when she crashes on the scorching hood of her boyfriend's racing vehicle. Helen Mirren, meanwhile, knows precisely how to create the form that's needed the jewel thief's only action is an chase in glamorous nighttime London as she chitchats with Dom who is she calls him her "favourite American". Of course she's driving.
Superfans will be cheering when a character returns from the dead. If the VFX are so blatantly light you're likely to be straying to the side of the screen, to observe the number of lives left. There's a mysterious physics behind these F&F films that isn't gravity's laws or the real-world kineticism but of catastrophic urban destruction that has zero deaths. The power of a powerful magnet that smashes cars into buildings is the heart of F9's most thrilling action sequence. In another scene two of Dom's most unpopular associates are sent into space by the cherry-red Pontiac with no motive whatsoever. It's possible to smile at the absurdity of the whole thing — that is when you're feeling generous.
After all these years the franchise still has an air of self-deprecation about it, along with an indication that it has its own "invincibility" which it both achieved. There's even dialogue to this effect, which threatens to break the fourth wall. We've witnessed how shaky blockbusters are without a crowd of moviegoers to greet them. F9 isn't the ideal summer film however it's close enough to be A reminder of the lengths, highs and lows that provide the escape that we require.