Friday, June 25

F9 Review


Dir: Justin Lin

Starring: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Jordana Brewster, and John Cena

2 h 15 m


Souped-up muscle cars, motorcycles, tanks, and even rocket-propelled space mods skid, screech, and swerve over every inch of the screen in director Justin Lin's newest Fast and Furious saga entry, now called F9


In what has become a superhero movie franchise with indestructible beings who taunt the laws of physics every time action is needed, F9 continues the adventures of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his makeshift family unit. It's escapism cinema at its best, a mindless, messy, overindulgent feat of summer popcorn movie fare. That's the strange beauty of these films; they completely understand what they are doing and have crafted a formula that straddles a line of sincerity and silliness that works to keep the absurdity from becoming overwhelming. 


Dom Torreto leads a quiet life, living on the outskirts with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and his son Brian. The family understands that their life together will constantly be threatened; their past has forged their present. Dom's past returns in the form of his forsaken brother Jakob (John Cena), who worked on a pit crew with Dom for their family racing business when they were young but now is a skilled assassin. Jakob has a plot for world destruction and domination. Dom and his crew reassemble to save the world and each other.


Beyond the cars and explosions, the Fast and Furious franchise has always been about family at its chaotic core. F9 handles this feature most appropriately of all the films, displaying the depths that the word "family" encompasses in this world. And Vin Diesel's character is the figurehead that the world revolves around; the compassionate father, the tough older sibling, the loving husband, Dom embraces all of these parts. 


F9 focuses on the familial components with returning familiar faces like Michelle Rodriguez, who returns as the always supportive love interest, Letty. Tyrese Gibson and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges provide comedic banter and amusing commentary on how the crew is invincible, not one scratch after all these dangerous scenarios. F9 plays for fan service, so there are more surprises for dedicated admirers of these films.


Most of the actors have played these roles for a few years already, so it's no shocker that the chemistry between the cast is achieved from the beginning moments. However, notably, Vin Diesel's Dom is given more character attention with this film than in the past. Dom's story is sorted out with flashbacks featuring a younger version of the character and introducing Dom's brother Jakob. F9 does a decent job of connecting the dots for the film's narrative arc while also providing connective tissue for the entire franchise. 


The narrative components have grown better regarding character composition, but the action and adventure pieces have grown duller. With so many films, each trying to outdo the previous, it's inevitable that the action setpieces would lose some of their awe-inducing moments of spectacle. Whether jumping cars off cliffs, using super-powered magnets to induce destruction, or going to space, which plays more for laughs than thrills, the gimmicks here are simply fine, not fantastic. 


It's hard to wonder when these films will end; I guess that depends on the demand from the committed viewers who come out for these movies. While F9 may not win any awards for its brand of storytelling, it does represent an element of why movie theaters mean so much; it's a vessel to escape from reality. 


Monte's Rating

2.50 out of 5.00


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