Not all blood is family.
F9 (also known as F9: The Fast Saga or Fast & Furious 9) is a 2021 action film directed by Justin Lin, written by Justin Lin and Daniel Casey, produced by One Race Films, Original Film, Roth/Kirschenbaum Films, and Perfect Storm Entertainment, and distributed by Universal Pictures. The film stars Vin Diesel and John Cena. It is inadvertently based on Ken Li's 1998 newspaper article, Racer X. It was not nominated for any Academy Awards. This is the tenth film in tenth film in the Fast and Furious franchise, acting as the ninth film in the main Fast and Furious continuity. It was preceded by Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw, but chronologically, it was preceded by The Fate of the Furious. Two sequels have been confirmed.
"No matter how fast you are, no one outruns their past." -Dominic Toretto
After trying to settle down with a family, Dom Toretto is thrown back into the action when Mr. Nobody sends an urgent message to the members of Dom's team. Dom decides to help them out and stop this new threat from taking over the world by means of a mysterious object labeled Project Ares. This time, however, it's personal, because the newest threat is Dom's estranged brother, Jakob.
Action and Over-the-Top Stunts / Self-Awareness / Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson / Absence of Logic / Breaking It's Own Rules / Climax / Dialogue / Story / Acting / Brotherly Relationship / John Cena's Motives / Unevenness
F9 definitely delivers a few good things. The action is pretty fun to watch. There are cars. And explosions. And gunshots. And cars. And explosions. And gunshots. There are times where it veers so purposefully into utterly ridiculous territory, and that's enjoyable. It carries the mark of over-the-top 80s action movies where the hero would get shot at by a hundred different guys, they'd all miss, then the hero would mow them down with a machine gun. That's what F9 feels like.
I also enjoyed the times that it made fun of itself. F9 knows that it's a dumb big blockbuster movie with explosions. It knows that the characters survive impossible situations. But there are times where the characters point out the ridiculousness of it, and I had some fun with that. It can be very self-aware at times, and I appreciated that about the movie.
I also really liked Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson. They had such great chemistry together. Tyrese Gibson's character was really funny, and I think that Ludacris worked as a nice contrast to him. Gibson was the idiot, and Ludacris was the smart one, but the pairing works so well. They were probably my favorite part of the film.
Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat are both guilty pleasure films that offer dumb, popcorn entertainment to fans of big spectacle action. That's what F9 is. Or rather, it tries to be, but still fails miserably at coming even close to the level of Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat.
I enjoyed F9 for the first half of the film. But the second half just absolutely wrecks everything.
I also have to put this in context: F9 is the first Fast & Furious movie that I have seen, so parts of my confusion may be related to that.
To start, the movie doesn't take logic into account. I wrote down the words "That doesn't make sense" at least seven times in my notes. Each scene introduces some new story element that rapidly deteriorates into a plot hole. Characters make decisions that are totally stupid and illogical, but it needs to happen in order for the story to move forward.
But that's no matter, because movies can create their own set of rules inside of their own world. And F9 does do that, but it eventually begins breaking even those rules. They will show us a device that works in a certain way, but then it will magically do things it couldn't do before. Characters survive situations that just are not possible to survive. Key plot elements will pop up out of nowhere. Characters will suddenly acquire knowledge out of thin air. F9 does not have a set of rules it abides by. Literally anything is possible. And it can be so distracting.
While I did enjoy the action originally, the climax of the film just falls flat for me. It dragged on for way too long and eventually just became noise. I knew that I was watching something, but I wasn't exactly sure what. Like I said before, the final thirty minutes just abandons all logic and rules and just goes for...something. The movie just dissolves into chaos, and that is why I didn't end up liking it.
And you have to talk about the dialogue. From top to bottom, this script is filled with some of the most generic, terrible dialogue ever put on film. I legitimately do not think that this movie has any lines that have not appeared in other movies. People say things like "I won't lose you again!" and "If we do this, we risk everything.". Every line is an epic proclamation that makes the viewer actively cringe in their seat.
The story also doesn't make sense. I was tracking with it for a bit, but then, once again, I just became totally lost in the third act. There's something with a device that can take over the world and...uh...I don't really know. They try to throw in these extra character moments throughout it that just do not work at all. I don't know what the screenwriters were thinking when they wrote this film.
I couldn't really get on board with the actors, either. Vin Diesel croaked all of his lines like a frog. Half of the time, I had no idea what he was even saying. Michelle Rodriguez looked like she was really, really pissed off at the world at every second, even when she was supposed to be happy. John Cena is such a goofball that it was hard to take him seriously in this movie. I think of him as a comedic actor, and this movie tried to make him a serious character, but it just couldn't do it well.
Likewise, the relationship between Vin Diesel and John Cena made no sense at all. There's a specific history with the two brothers that is shown through flashbacks during the movie, and the flashbacks don't really add up to what their relationship is during the present day of the film. They also try to throw in multiple twists for the flashback story, and, eventually, it falls apart after so many reveals.
Also, John Cena's motives don't really make sense, like the rest of the movie. I can't say specifically what his motivations are, but they change a lot throughout the movie, and, by the end, you aren't really sure why he did what he did. There's a final flashback near the end of the movie that was added to try to force some theme of family into the film, and the flashback makes zero sense in light of the events of the film. This is the kind of laziness that makes this movie bad.
The movie is so uneven. It seems like it was originally trying to have a legit story with some cool action and an interesting relationship dynamic between two brothers. Then it became concerned with having bigger and more ridiculous set pieces and action scenes. It eventually collapses into crazy, annoying action noise.
Analogy and Final Score
F9 is like a Jenga Tower. The first act is building the tower, which happens really quickly. It peaks at the end of the first act with a great action sequence. In the second act, they begin to pull out the bricks. The tower becomes wobbly and unstable. Then, at the end of the second act, a critical brick is pulled out, causing the tower to topple. No bricks are left standing.
The film definitely is in the guilty pleasure section with Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat. That would be a good thing, but F9 has too many non-sensical things and dumb plot holes without enough entertainment value to compensate for it.
I enjoyed F9 enough to go Sour. Age range is 8+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
Fun Factor: 6.5/10
Directed by Justin Lin
Rated PG-13 for moderate violence and action, language, thematic elements
Released on June 25, 2021
2 hours and 25 minutes
Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto
John Cena as Jakob Toretto
Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz
Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto
Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce
Ludacris as Tej Parker
Sung Kang as Han Lue
Nathalie Emmanuel as Megan Ramsey
Charlize Theron as Cipher
Anna Sawai as Elle
Helen Mirren as Queenie
Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody
Thue Ersted Rasmussen as Otto