F9: The Fast Saga (2021)
Director: Justin Lin
Writers: Daniel Casey, Justin Lin, and Afredo Botello
Starring: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Michael Rooker, Helen Mirren, Kurt Russell, and Charlize Theron
Plot: Dominic and Letty Toretto are pulled out of retirement when his little brother kidnaps Mr. Nobody.
Review: Listen. I’m not a person who can’t appreciate fine dining. I love a good lobster tail or a nice juicy steak. But, I also really like McDonald’s. Are they tricking me in any way? No. I know that’s not what real food tastes like. I’ve had a real burger. That ain’t it. But, there’s something so enjoyable about biting into a Quarter Pounder’s greasy, borderline edible, processed meat patty. That’s how I feel about the Fast & Furious franchise, up to and including F9. Is it fine art? No. Is it even good? I honestly don’t know if I could tell you. Did I thoroughly enjoy it? Absolutely.
Honestly, I feel like you already know what you’re getting into with these movies. If you’ve seen the last handful, you’ve probably made up you’re mind about this one. These movies are ridiculous. They’re filled with goofy car stunts, impossible stunts, bad jokes, possibly worse acting, family, girls, Corona™, a huge way over the top sequence at the end that makes the rest of the movie look tame by comparison, and more melodrama than your average Grey’s Anatomy episode. You can nitpick them to death (and trust me there are things to nitpick) or you can just roll with it. Laugh off the dumb things that are happening on screen because you’re just there to have a good time. Plus, it’s not like these movies don’t also know that they’re dumb. Tyrese spends half of this movie calling out that fact. It’s up to you whether you’re willing to accept that fact as well. Me personally, I like to live my life a quarter mile at a time.
That having been said, let’s compare it to the rest of the franchise. Because I do have to admit that F9 doesn’t quite reach the same highs as some of the other movies for a couple different reasons. First of all, it’s very heavily weighed down by the whole brother subplot. They don’t show it in the trailer, but about 25% of this movie is flashbacks to Dom and his brother’s younger days. And while the modern stuff feels light and fun, this feels over dramatic and a tad too dark. Other than one sequence that was a nice throw back to the series roots, I was never really entertained by these sections. Plus, it felt a bit overlong. They could’ve cut half of these flackbacks and still told the same basic story, especially with some of the details being stuff we Fast Fans already know. Second, without getting into spoiler territory, this movie goes some places with it’s climax that even for them is a little silly. As I’ve said, I’m one that’s inclined to just go with the flow in these movies but this stretched that willingness a bit. Not to the point where I was walking out or anything. More of a “Really? That’s where this is going? Ok then…” sort of feeling. And lastly, honestly, I missed The Rock and Jason Statham. Hobbs and Shaw was pretty good, but it wasn’t worth losing them for. I hope by the finale in Fast 11 Johnson and Diesel can work out their beef. Because the franchise just doesn’t feel right without two more big, muscley, bald men. Though I will say that John Cena was a very welcome addition and I was happy to have Han back. Even if Tokyo Drift feels a tad lessened for it. Lucas Black and Bow Wow could’ve stayed away though. Nah. I’m kidding. It was nice to have them back too. Kinda. Sorta.
So, overall, can I recommend F9: The Fast Saga? I honestly don’t know. It’s definitely on a person by person basis. I can say that I enjoyed it. It’s far from a perfect movie, but I had a good time. If you’re looking for high art and/or are not willing to accept this movie’s goofier elements, you’re not going to enjoy it. I would definitely use the last couple as barameters. If you loved them, you’ll at least like this one. But if you were even slightly mixed on them, I could see you not buying into this one. Because it does get even goofier than some of the previous entries. So, you know what you like. You do you. I’m gonna keep on loving this crazy franchise and eating at McDonald’s.
Oh, and F9: The Fast Saga may be the worst official title in the history of cinema.
TL;DR: In a series of crazy movies, F9: The Fast Saga, might just be the most insane for better and for worse.
Score: 7/10 (Good)