Whelp, they did it. Straight up rocket boosted over the metaphorical shark after jumping clear over it a few movies ago, and to be honest, I’m not upset about it.
Continuing the ridiculously over-the-top adventures of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and the various characters that make up his extended “family” as they navigate life in between saving the world and racing fast cars, F9: The Fast Saga is all about moving into the endgame of this unbelievably popular franchise while still giving audiences some patented craziness that only this franchise can provide. Wrapped up in a contrived story that isn’t really all that important compared to what happens in this film otherwise, the general gist of it deals with the consequences of the return of Dom’s estranged brother, Jakob (John Cena), and how he somehow found the means to threaten the world on a global scale. Partnering back up with his rag-tag team of previous Fast and Furious alums, Dom decides to come out of “retirement” (whatever that means), to help take down a brother that he wrote off years ago, and of course, save the world in the process. Crazy car stunts ensue, bullets fly, and some other questionable action scenes play out in a movie that ups the ante at every turn, while also giving fans more nonsensical storytelling to wrap their heads around in the meantime.
Taking far more cues from the solid and way more action-oriented film of Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, F9 has unabashedly become a franchise that clearly doesn’t give a shit about anything other than topping itself with each new iteration. Chock-full of explosive action, humorous plot beats and a few competently scripted scenes to boot, F9 is a sequel that’s more balanced than The Fate of the Furious by far, despite continuing in a direction that would make even the most wild of ‘80s action movies blush.
By bringing back (yet again) nearly every character from the franchise’s past in some form or another, and by giving audiences a fleeting idea of what the endgame for this franchise might be as it reaches its conclusion in two movies time, F9 becomes more a sum of its parts than anything that can stand on its own, yet is handily able to satisfy fans in more ways than one; especially if you’ve been following along with each new iteration after all these years. It’s a film that’s yet another culmination of what’s come before, sure, but unlike a few other entries in the series, F9 makes good use of it all in ways that I didn’t suspect, allowing this film to sit higher up on the “Best Of” Fast and Furious list than most other sequels in the series. That being said, you’re either in or out for these movies at this point, so a lot of the enjoyment from this one stems from how you feel about the franchise as a whole, and to be completely honest about it, F9 isn’t going to change your mind if you roll your eyes every time Dom mentions “family” or sends a fresh new car off a cliff to its untimely death.
But what makes this film stand out more than a lot of the other sequels is that the script gets into the nitty gritty of who Dom was before we ever met him, with the flashbacks utilized not only giving Dom some extra character work that’s much appreciated, but also bringing in John Cena’s character in a way that was far more competent than I could have ever imagined, allowing the movie to stand on a solid foundation throughout. You’ll 100% still scratch your head in spots as well as cringe at a few one-liners thrown in here and there, but overall, this is the most “fast” and “furious” we’ve seen the franchise be up until this point, and I’m totally into it.
But of course, and for all the “good” that this film does in the first three quarters of the film, what with all of its (mostly) practical stunt work and some solid dramatic scenes throughout, once the third act comes around, everything this movie has done goes out the window almost entirely. I won’t spoil it here (and at this point how could you not have heard about what happens), but I will say for as wildly nonsensical as the last thirty minutes are, the finale fell just short of making this movie feel like it’s gone too far for its own good, making me excited and curious as to how the last two films will wrap everything up.
So while I’m entirely unsure of how this franchise can top itself after this one (but that’s always been the thought after walking out of the theater from seeing one of these), F9: The Fast Saga is a wild ride that needs to be seen in theaters to be believed. And although the end set-piece was inevitable at this point in the franchise’s career, I was down for pretty much everything else I saw, and can’t wait to see what comes next.