Review: F9: The Fast Saga

The opening scene to F9: The Fast Saga is a flashback to a young Dominic Toretto and his brother Jakob. The scene gives some context to 2001’s The Fast and the Furious. It’s a very serious scene that’s quickly followed by first action sequence of the film. That action scene is so over-the-top with car chases, explosions and it disrespects every physics lesson ever taught. The first 15 minutes really illustrate what this F9 is – a few semi serious moments about family but mostly it’s a bunch of preposterous action scenes strung together to make the most outrageous film possible.

F9 picks up sometime after Dom and his crew saved the world in The Fate of the Furious. Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are with little Brian living off the grid. After a visit from some of their old crew members, they embark on another mission to save the world one more time. This time they’re up against Dom’s brother Jakob (John Cena) who is in the “spy game” as he puts it. Jakob is after a device known as Aries that allows you the control anything digital. The device is split into two parts and there’s a key needed to start the device.

With Jakob already in possession of one half of Aries, Dom and crew set out to get the second half of Aries and the key before Jakob does.

Of course the whole crew is back for F9 – Roman (Tyrese), Tej (Ludacris), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), Mia (Jordana Brewster), and the triumphant return of Han (Sung Kang).

Before we get into how crazy this film is, there are a few things to note. F9 is very self aware. It’s aware of how insane all of this and the chatter about the franchise on social media.  Most of the self aware commentary comes from Roman. At times he asks questions that almost break the 4th wall. Director Justin Lin does a fantastic job of directing action this film should be chaotic. Like a true conductor behind the lens, he finds a way to turn the chaotic action into a beautiful symphony.

Now for the craziness…F9 is the most insane piece of film in recent years. It’s all over the place. There are some of the most unintentionally funny scenes sandwiched between jaw-dropping action sequences. But there are so many questions. Who was watching Little Brian? Why does this film make magnets feel like super weapons? Can cars go to space? How hard is it for a drone to catch a car in mid air? How many times can you brace someone’s fall with a car? Why do you need expensive cars for these missions? Why do Dom and is brother have necklaces from Piercing Pagoda? Where is the actual US Military when all of this is happening? I need answers. 

One of the most hilarious scenes is Dom and Jakob’s fight. Jakob zip lines through all of London and it ends with him and Dom throwing each other through brick walls like superheroes. The other laugh-out-loud scene is Dom going full berserker barrage on a bunch of soldiers. Dom might as well be Captain America at this point. 

Jakob is a really solid villain to add to the franchise but he doesn’t have much to say. One of the biggest missteps was not making Jakob of villain that likes to joke. Cena has shown he can be really good at comedy. Instead, he broods the whole movie and has a page of dialogue.

Along with the return of Han we get the addition of Elle (Anna Sawai) who has some of the best fight choreography in the film. Hopefully she sticks around for the next film.

F9 is exactly what you think it is. The crew travels around the really cool cars doing very dangerous things. It’s purposely mindless and absurd and maybe sometimes a little too absurd. More than the previous films, it’s more cartoonish than a fun action film. Most of what doesn’t work is due to the dialogue that shifts from self aware comedy to very bad character interactions. This film may be the one that loses fans, but if you’re into silly action or 2+ hours, this is your film.

Grade: C+