When you go in to watch a movie from the Fast & Furious franchise, sorry “saga” as it now appears to be, you know you aren’t going in to watch a dramatic story that’s going to move you.
Rather, you know what you are going to get: cars, stunts, guns, girls, Vin Diesel and, recently, a host of other big-name actors who, when they appear on screen, your reaction is, “how’d they convince him/her to be in this?”.
And it is no different with the ninth instalment of the franchise, sorry, saga. Mr. Diesel is back, along with the usual band: Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Jordana Brewster and Nathalie Emmanuel.
Even director Justin Lin returns, though this time the script is from different people: Daniel Casey (“Kin”, “Drone (TV)”) and Alfredo Botello (“Hollywood Adventures”, “Reality Reboot (TV)”).
However, what is different with the latest movie is the sheer preposterousness of the whole affair. Don’t believe me? Thinking, “c’mon, it’s always preposterous”, then I will simply say this: they go into space.
Yep, you read that right, for this movie, the gang head into space, in a car. I mean, that’s far from the only thing in the movie that is completely out there, but as far as realism is concerned, it appears that the makers of F&F have now decided to throw every rule out of the car window, rather than just most as previously.
It’s like they looked at the cast, saw that Ludacris was in it, and took it as an instruction for how the movie should play out.
Sometimes, rarely, but sometimes, this can work out ok. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those times. The movie plays out like a seventies James Bond film, you know the one, where he goes into space!
Because the ridiculousness has been cranked up to 11, it makes other areas of the movie seem all the more strange. The acting in the F&F franchise has always been on the serious side, apart from a few characters who attempted to bring some fun to proceedings, mainly Gibson and Ludacris.
Everyone in F9, as it is also known, plays their parts as if they’re playing Shakespeare at The Globe. There’s a scene where Vin Diesel is drowning and his life begins to play before him, in flashback.
As we self-indulgently go from flashback scene to flashback scene, you have never wanted a character’s breath to run out so much as now. It’s done with all the seriousness of an indie drama, but that’s not Diesel’s strength and it certainly isn’t the F&F franchise’s strength.
You even have Gibson’s character in this movie saying the group might be invincible, as he points out that they do all this crazy, impossible stuff and walk away without a scratch on them. This comes shortly after he’s taken out a group of bad guys whilst surrounded, with an AK47. You sit there thinking, “yeah, we know mate”.
The franchise feels so devoid of anywhere new to go, other than space, that parts of it are starting to feel like that time in Dallas, when the writers got a bit stuck and decided that the last few seasons were all a character’s dream.
Sung Kang revises his role in F9, despite having been killed off in a previous movie, with some explanation that isn’t far off ‘it was all a dream’ being given. We also learn, suddenly, after all this time, that Diesel’s character has a brother, in the shape of John Cena.
Some of the action takes place in London and Edinburgh. Great, we might finally get some European…oh wait no. For some inexplicable reason, they bring with them their American muscle cars, ‘cos you know, nothing says covert like driving around London or Edinburgh’s, weirdly empty from traffic, streets in a massive, old, pimped-up American muscle car…
Or there’s the constant changing of gears. Where does this come from? This happens in a lot of movies I grant you, and F9 isn’t the first of the franchise to do it, but it feels much more pronounced for some reason. Constantly changing gear, whilst driving straight, already supposedly going as fast as possible, a character will just randomly change gear, and yet no pistons burst through the bonnet, sorry, hood.
On and on this sort of thing goes, whilst the gang, once again, attempt to save the world from something that has randomly been split into three parts, rather than, you know, destroyed. The bad guy having multiple opportunities to kill all involved, but never does.
You know the score by now, you know what you’re getting, you are just getting a lot more and not all of it is good. But, whilst the movies continue to do box office numbers (currently over $600 million worldwide), they’ll continue to be made, as the sneak preview at the end shows, F10 is on its way.
24th June 2021
THE QUICK SELL
Dom and the crew must take on an international terrorist who turns out to be Dom and Mia's estranged brother.