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FAST & FURIOUS 9 Review: Bold, Bonkers and oddly sincere

Fast and Furious 9 is now officially out in cinemas

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Fast 9 (Universal Pictures)

Well, after months and months of waiting Fast & Furious 9 (Fast 9) is finally here. The wacky franchise has endured for two whole decades and has earned more than $5 billion around the world. With all of the explosions and gravity-defying stunts that have shaped the franchise into what it is today, could the ninth chapter really take Dom and his crew further?

I think the first thing to say about the Fast & Furious franchise is that I truly admire it’s overall vision and dedication to providing an incredibly entertaining experience. In terms of escapism and just pure fun, Fast & Furious knocks it out of the park every single time. Yes, that also applies to Fast 9.

So, where do we find ourselves in Fast & Furious 9?

Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto is leading a quiet life off the grid with Letty and his son, little Brian, but they know that danger always lurks just over their peaceful horizon. This time, that threat will force Dom to confront the sins of his past if he’s going to save those he loves most. His crew joins together to stop a world-shattering plot led by the most skilled assassin and high-performance driver they’ve ever encountered: a man who also happens to be Dom’s forsaken brother, Jakob

Much like all of the later installments, Fast 9 is wildly entertaining, absolutely bonkers and just ridiculous in the best way possible. However, this installment takes a slightly different approach with the inclusion of John Cena’s Jakob. We’re very much used to the crazy stunts and over the top action, but this film really tried to give us a more personal story. As expected, Fast 9 reminds you just how important family is. But for Dom as a character, it was nice to see him face a somewhat contradictory scenario. While he never forgets the importance of family, he also ruthlessly abandons his own blood.

For me, this created a slight problem. Fast 9 was trying to be very sincere. We got to look back at Dom’s life with his brother and father. A traumatic event literally tears the family apart and it sets the two brothers on very different paths. Unfortunately, the Fast & Furious franchise has been incredibly focused on creating and, to be honest, nailing the epic stunts and action sequences in a bid to create the best form of escapism. As a result of the increasingly ludicrous stunts, it has become incredibly difficult to take Fast & Furious seriously. Just look at all of the Dom memes that have spawned online. So, anytime the film tries to play with our emotions, there’s a somewhat numbing effect. We don’t really feel anything, well I certainly didn’t.

Having said that though, the conflict between the brothers felt genuine and oddly grounded despite what was transpiring around them. It’s also worth mentioning that the first clash between Dom and Jakob is insanely cool and over the top. Just how we like it. They’re smashing through buildings, breaking walls, and making physically impossible jumps. It was a brilliant fight that very much echoed Hobb’s fight in The Fate of the Furious. It’s an aspect that the franchise has truly worked on. While the car action will forever be the major talking point of the films, the hand-to-hand combat has improved signifcantly with the stunt team and crew taking equally as crazy steps to ensure the biggest and boldest fight scenes.

Despite it being a Fast & Furious film, I was somewhat disappointed by the actual races and vehicle incorporation. There are some fantastic scenes in Fast 9. Dom’s crew drive through a minefield with an army on their tail. Then there’s the giant magnet which was incredibly cool. It’s just didn’t feel as flashy or stylish as usual. There was this prioritisation on the next big stunt which did take the franchise to a whole new level, but I feel as though the racing element suffered as a result. Of course, many readers will know what I’m referring. The next big question to ask is… can it be topped?

If they can bring back dead characters and stop world-ending events, there’s no real limit for Dom and his family. However, if they aren’t careful there is a chance they could lose their audience by going just a step too far. Take Han for example. His death was witnessed by millions. We all saw it. The explanation behind his survival? Well, there isn’t really one. It’s just a case of “they made it look like I died”. Remembering of course that Han was definitely in the car. Anyway, I digress. Despite my own thoughts on the ressurection of Han, it seems as though we’re gearing up for a nice big reunion that will help lead us into the final two movies.

Fast & Furious 9 is a fun and ridiculous action-packed movie that delivers in terms of scope and spectacle. However, it’s attempt to be heartfelt is slightly squandered by the overall nature of the franchise and it’s focus on being daring and bold takes us away from the elements that made Fast & Furious the franchise that it is. The action is there, the cars are there, and the gravity defying stunts are there. If you can accept that these are the elements that make this franchise tick, you’ll have an absolute blast. Sure, I had problems with this film. But I can’t deny that I laughed at the jokes and smiled as a giant magnet drove through the streets. All I can say now is that I’m ready for whatever Fast & Furious has lined up next.

Fast 9 is officially out now and stars Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris”  Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Anna Sawai, John Cena, Michael Rooker, Helen Mirren, and Charlize Theron.


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