I can’t think of a better way to start a review about the latest Fast & Furious installment than “family”. We’re 8 iterations deep, and the crux of all that is fast, is family. Which is strange, cause the first film is about a cop infiltrating a world where Honda Civics are robbing trucks for DVD players. But it kind of resolves itself to family, because Brian owed Dom a 10 second car and no one likes the tuna sandwiches.
After the schlock of Hobbs & Shaw, which is mostly fine in its own right but isn’t really a Fast & Furious film in retrospect (no Ryan Reynolds, it’s not “F*ck family”), we return to the ‘Sacred Timeline’. In this timeline, Justin Lin, Daniel Casey and Alfredo Botello have challenged themselves to pack in a tonne of retconning into F9. This is to no doubt prep for the bombast that could be movie number 10. But at what cost? A tonne of convenience, characters unseen for 6 movies and a plethora of connective tissue.
I hope you heard his classic theme ringing through your brain. Thankfully you won’t hear it during the film, as he portrays the somehow “forgotten about, but it makes sense cause he’s a middle child” Jakob Toretto. Look I don’t know about you, but I feel in all the adventures the Fast Family have had so far, their brother would have come up at some point. Oh, and he’s somehow part of the very same “shadowy” world they inhabit. Convenience. Thanks to his return, we also see EVERYONE from the previous film come back, along with Sung Kang‘s Han from Tokyo Drift (who was also in 4, 5 and 6). Don’t worry, that gets explained. But the sheer setup of all of this, makes you wonder where we’re heading in a film which is tantamount to Infinity War setting up End Game.
Does it reach those same highs? Ehhhh. Infinity War did what many thought an impossible task after a decade of film. The Fast Saga is now playing fast with abridging a mess of storylines after the loss of one of their headliners and a fallout between the cast and The Rock. For the most part it succeeds in tying it all up, but at best is a tedium of the previously said convenience. This is while a sh*tload of action is occurring, and the action is definitely in equivalence to sh*tloads.
CGI finds itself more heavily used. This is something Lin was hoping to avoid as much as possible, but I suspect in the era of COVID it may not have been possible. That, and some of the stuff they do probably necessitates CGI, as I don’t see how they could flip a semi-fictional truck that long and hard in an urban environment.
Oh, and they also go to f*cking space.
If your current train of thought after all this is that the film sounds muddling or terrible, you may be right! But I don’t watch The Fast Saga for anything groundbreaking. I watch it because I turn my brain off and have the time of my life. The people in my screening were having that too. Not only because they were cheering on Kiwi Vinnie Bennett, but because it’s a fun film that requires nothing from you but your enjoyment. I also couldn’t help but cheer on Kiwi Anna Sawai, who plays Elle, Han’s new protegé (who we can all agree is the best OG Fast character).
F9 isn’t about original parts.
There’s a reason the original was built on the aftermarket/tuner scene of cars at the time. Because it’s a cobble of parts replacing or improving performance from the original vehicle. Hell, Vin Diesel wasn’t even in part 2, and didn’t show up again until the end of Tokyo Drift! But it survives by taking what it needs, and functionally building on itself like a tuner. And unlike the improvements they see in film, where NOS is unrealistically hilarious, it works similarly to tuning a vehicle in real life. They’re not big improvements, but they’re enough.
And for that, I love this dumb, stupid series so much. It doesn’t give a f*ck about what you think is preposterous, because if you say “What? You’re gonna go to space next??”, they’ll reply “Yeah, we might just do that!”. And I honestly hope they do a Jurassic Park crossover, cause why not! It’d be fast. It’d be furious. And most of all, it’d be about family.
I looked up the fastest quarter mile speed, and it was apparently 621 kilometers an hour. That is what I will give this review, cause apparently numbers matter to people, but I think The Fast Saga exists beyond that. It's not about that life any more, because it's about family.
But it also exists to be fun. To do crazy sh*t. And they know how to do that, and have been doing so for a while now. Can it last? Nothing ever can. But for now, turn your mind off and enjoy the ride.