The ninth entry in the mainline Fast and Furious franchise tears into theaters to continue the story of The Family. Mr. Nobody’s (Kurt Russell) plane crashed following an attack by rogue agents and now Dom (Vin Diesel) needs to come out of retirement, joining with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) to find out what those baddies are up to and why it’s personal for Toretto. Here’s a hint: it deals with a long unspoken fracture in the Toretto family. Along the way, the film picks up threads from just about every previous entry to weave a truly epic story worthy of being called a saga.
Truly, that’s all you need to know. If you’re a fan of this franchise you already have your tickets and if not I cannot stress enough how much pure fun you are missing out on. Give it another go, step in with an open mind not bogged down by nitpicking physics and things like ‘reality.’ You’ll be better for it and you’ll enjoy F9 as much as it deserves to be.
Now, if you’ll indulge me for a bit of a fanboy rant here.
These movies do something so incredible, so wild, it’s almost beyond words. They are so earnest in their approach to everything. Even when things are wacky, it’s charming. Nobody in these movies acts as if they are above it, or as if the material is in any way something other than exactly what they want to be doing. There is an earnestness to everything, a real sense of faith, family, and love for both the characters and, of course, the real actors behind everything that it’s hard not to feel that connection. I’m not the only one who cried at the end of Furious 7 surely?
These movies are so interconnected, it is astounding. If you were a star in any entry in these films, in any capacity – a lead, a cameo, a side crew, so long as you weren’t a villain who was killed by the end of the film (and even then maybe) you have the potential to come back for another ride. It’s a massive universe of spies, daredevils, ‘agents,’ terrorists, government black ops, and street racers – the creme de la creme of action hero jobs to be sure.
That means that if there is ever a need for a guy who knows a guy, or a crew of armed professionals, or a person with a specific skillset, the movies have just the person and can bring back anyone at any time much to the delight of fans such as myself. This franchise has 8 films, a spin-off movie, a cartoon on Netflix, and a couple of videos – just an absolute wealth of material that they can people their stories with. It’s truly delightful to watch old favorites pop back up.
I tell you what, it wasn’t so long ago that another 9th film in another saga revealed a secret familial connection between the lead and a villain, and that movie’s reveal went over like a wet fart. Not F9 however. John Cena joining the story as Jakob Toretto is given a backstory via a few flashbacks, as well as an iron-clad reason for never being seen or even whispered of ’til now.
It’s like when the X-Men comics revealed a third Summers brother in Gabriel Summers in 2006 (for real this time, not like Adam X or Gambit or even Apocalypse). Is it ridiculous? Yeah sure, but it’s fine. In fact, it’s more than fine, it’s absolutely a delight because these movies are in a league of their own. They’re soap operas cut from a different cloth — from luxurious interior leather rather than spandex. These are movies where the main characters defy laws of physics so long as they’re behind the wheel of a tuned-up machine, so enjoy that soap opera and let’s ride!
Unlike other blockbuster action flicks, these movies aren’t so in love with guns, which I find to be a nice touch. Dom runs around with a silver shotgun in his classic white tank top – is it practical? Absolutely not! Is it cool? Maybe. But that’s not the point of any of our heroes – they’re not John Wick-style gun-kata aficionados (though that rules in its own way!) In the Fast & Furious universe, guns just serve as a tool to get our family into a vehicle so the real fun can start. In these movies guns are fine, but cars, now those are cool. And while our heroes might be something of superhuman themselves, at least in speed, endurance, and strength, Justin Lin and Daniel Casey give those powers to cars. They ask, “What if cars had the power of the Force?” and it leads to a fun stretch of action, I’ll just say that.
Think of it like a child’s first toy. Before they ever get a toy gun, or sword, or lightsaber what do they play with? Cars. Trucks. They speed them across the floor, jump over tables and smash them together. F9 like the others before it recalls that joyous early play.
I can only imagine how good this movie will land in a crowd full of Fast & Furious fanatics who will hoot and holler and every reveal, twist, and turn. I’ll say this for my fellow members of the press – they are good, decent folks, but dyed in the wool members of The Family they are not.
F9: The Fast Saga is in theaters now and you owe it to yourself to go see what The Family gets up to this time.
In the movie Little Brian, Dom and Letty’s son tells his father he doesn’t know how to say grace. Dom’s reply is the ethos of this entire franchise laid bare. So long as you speak from the heart, that’s good enough. No matter how silly, excessive, or strange, these movies are clearly made from the heart.
I truly, with all my heart, give this movie…