'F9: The Fast Saga' Review—Absolute Insanity
No animals were harmed in the making of this movie. Just a lot of cars, buildings, and every law of physics you can think of.
What did you expect from F9: The Fast Saga? Were you expecting a detective movie about street racers? Been there, done that. Were you expecting a good story and characterization and anything that makes a movie good? Yawn. Of course not.
By purchasing a ticket to the ninth installment of The Fast and the Furious series, you need to know what you're getting into. Franchise veteran Justin Lin is back at the helm for the first time since Fast & Furious 6, and he directs this movie as if his life depends on it.
Gone are the days when this series was about street racers pulling off exciting heists—ever since Fast Five, this franchise has transformed into a globetrotting action-adventure where each film tries to outdo the predecessor in its absolute insanity.
This movie, though? Wow. F9 is peak stupidity. Granted, we thought peak stupidity was Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) jumping a car from the window of one building to a neighboring building in Furious 7. Then, we thought peak stupidity was Dom jumping a car over a submarine to dodge a heat-seeking missile in The Fate of the Furious.
But this movie is peak peak peak stupidity. Just when you thought the franchise was out of gas and couldn't drive another quarter mile, it throws F9 at your face. This is an action movie that kicks ass, takes names, and will have you questioning humanity due to the sheer nonsense of it all.
This is the first film in the series to not feature a screenplay from writer Chris Morgan since The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Instead, we have a script penned by Lin and Daniel Casey (Kin). As the writers have changed, you can see how this movie's offering a slightly different flavor of Fast & Furious.
We get more of an origin story for Dom, as we see his childhood and relationship with his now-long-lost brother, Jakob (John Cena). Our film also leans more heavily on clichés, as we have Dom as our reluctant hero who has settled down but is forced to get back into action when he is approached with a mission connected to his past (how original).
Our movie proceeds with an action setpiece that feels like a metaphor for the franchise; it starts with a couple of fast cars, but as the sequence goes on, it ramps up the ridiculous, over-the-top action that defies every single law of physics and logic.
The heroes are put in a crazy scenario involving land mines, and I kid you not-every stunt in this sequence gets stupider than the last. It genuinely feels as if Lin is going, "Hey, you thought THAT was ridiculous? Just wait until you see THIS!" over and over again.
We have reached a point where these movies are not trying to make sense. Making sense is actually the least of this movie's concerns, as the violence is so inconceivably cartoonish that it cannot be taken seriously by anyone. It's a film that will have you laughing at the fact that they had the balls to make something so ridiculous.
Besides one flashback where we get a bit of old-school Fast & Furious with Dom's first street race, this movie is a cartoon. There are scenes where people smash their bodies through concrete walls and metal signs without facing any short-term injuries. At this point, the movie is going out of its way not to be taken seriously.
It's easily the most self-aware film in the franchise. Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) actually begins to speculate that the team is invincible due to the sheer absurdity of their achievements and how they make it out of everything without a scratch.
With jokes like this and a final action setpiece that will make your jaw drop, this movie is really swinging for the fences. As usual, we have Dom pulling off miraculous stunts that have to go perfectly to work without a flicker of fear on his face. The action has no tension due to its completely unrealistic nature, but it's also so fun it should be illegal.
Honestly, phrases like "jump the shark" were invented for this film. F9 jumps the shark in every sense of the phrase, and "plausibility" is not in the dictionary of anyone who worked on this film. If you thought the crazy action peaked in Hobbs & Shaw, prepare to have your eyes roll to the back of your head.
As far as actual issues go (beyond the obvious), the movie feels like it meanders a bit during the second act. It's never a boring movie, but the screenplay is unremarkable, with a lot of flashbacks, exposition, and a villain who wants to take control of the world's nuclear weapons, which is another tired idea.
Charlize Theron reprises her villainous role as Cipher in this movie, but there is nothing for her to do except stand around and whisper dialogue with a menacing glare in the very few scenes she's in. The writers desperately want her to be the big baddie in the inevitable FasTen Your Seatbelts, where Dom will likely drive a car at the speed of light directly into the sun.
Cena's Jakob is the main antagonist of the film, and his motivation is incredibly weak. Nothing about Jakob's character felt earned, but you know what? Who cares?
Check your brain at the door before entering your local theater because this movie will require you to suspend all disbelief to have any fun with it whatsoever. You try to watch this movie with your brain, and it will actively kill your brain cells. So do it a favor and turn it off, for your own sake.
If you're the type to nitpick movies and complain about illogical ideas, you will have a field day with this movie. Nothing about any of this movie's events could ever happen, with the film going places we've only joked about in the past. It's a loud, dumb action movie that knows exactly how loud and dumb it is.
This movie has almost become a parody of itself, with unforgivable setpieces that involve giant magnets. For some, this film may be the final straw in terms of plausibility and will have them leaving the theater fast and furious. For me, this is the popcorn entertainment of a lifetime with fantastic stunts, spectacle, and absurdity beyond comprehension.
Grade: ★★★★☆ [8/10, B]
Jonathan's Tips: Don't watch any of the trailers because they spoil too much. Watch this on the biggest screen possible. If you like Tokyo Drift, you'll like some scenes in this film. Have fun.
F9: The Fast Saga is in theaters June 25, 2021.