Movie Review

F9: The Fast Saga takes series' absurdity to new heights

F9: The Fast Saga takes series' absurdity to new heights

At this point in the Fast & Furious franchise, which has improbably reached nine films plus one spin-off, all semblance of logical storytelling and real-world physics has long been thrown out the window. The filmmakers know what fans want, and that is action sequences where people and cars accomplish impossible feats, with any actual storytelling coming in a distant second or third.

The previous entry, The Fate of the Furious, found the franchise fully changing into a comic book style, and F9 (technically called F9: The Fast Saga) goes even further, straight up acknowledging the ridiculousness of what they’re presenting on screen and inviting the audience to laugh along with them.

Since family in its many forms has been the theme of the franchise since the beginning, it’s no surprise it’s at the center of this film as well. Dom (Vin Diesel), raising his son with now-wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) off the grid, is brought back into the, let’s say, spy game when his group of friends – which includes Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) – get a message from Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) that a plane carrying something very important has crashed in Mexico.

Macguffin now in place, the group races into action, only to discover that another person is after the same mysterious object. Spoiler: It turns out to be Dom’s heretofore unknown brother, Jakob (John Cena), whom we come to learn has been at odds with Dom ever since their father died in a race car crash 30 years ago. Now, he’s teamed up with Otto (Thue Ersted Rasmussen), the son of a billionaire, and a captured Cipher (Charlize Theron) to use the device to … oh, who cares?

All that’s important is that framework allows writer/director Justin Lin and co-writer Daniel Casey to put the characters and their vehicles in all manner of fantastical situations, ones that involve … (checks notes) … a rickety rope bridge, a stealth bomber, super-powered magnets, and a space-bound Pontiac Fiero. The action finds the characters – and their cars – hopping around the world as easily as you or I would cross the street. Anyone trying to follow the progression of the plot would do better beating their head against a wall, because none of it makes sense.

Let’s be clear: F9 is not a good movie. But the filmmakers aren’t trying to make a “good” movie, at least not in the traditional sense. They’re trying to up the ante on all the stunts that have come in the previous films, and appeal to the base instincts of moviegoers, many of whom just want to be entertained without thinking. And the film certainly succeeds on those counts. Every other action movie that has been called “over-the-top” must now bow down in reverence to this one, which is sure to be topped by the forthcoming 10th installment.

In addition to the main group, the film brings back fan favorites like Twinkie (Shad Moss, aka Bow Wow), Sean (Lucas Black), and Han (Sung Kang), each of whom played a part in the series’ third entry, Tokyo Drift. And not including Theron, who shows up in a handful of scenes in one location and probably put in one day’s work, there are cameos by Helen Mirren, reprising her role from Hobbs & Shaw, and – why not? – Cardi B, Bad Bunny, and podcaster Bill Simmons.

Anyone willingly going to see F9 knows exactly what type of movie they’re going to get, and it ain’t high art. But the actors know exactly how to play their roles amid all the insane action sequences, and the filmmakers are in on the joke, so it’s best to just sit back and let the absurdity wash over you.

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F9: The Fast Saga opens in theaters on June 25.

Vin Diesel in F9: The Fast Saga
Vin Diesel in F9: The Fast Saga. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures
Michelle Rodriguez in F9: The Fast Saga
Michelle Rodriguez in F9: The Fast Saga. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures
John Cena in F9: The Fast Saga
John Cena in F9: The Fast Saga. Photo by Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures
Vin Diesel in F9: The Fast Saga
Michelle Rodriguez in F9: The Fast Saga
John Cena in F9: The Fast Saga