Review by Dan Skip Allen
The Fast and the Furious franchise is known for two things: cars and family. They have stretched the term family to its limits. Some of the villains they have faced are actual family members. Deckard and Owen Shaw have caused quite the problem for Dom and his "family" in previous installments in the franchise. Family is there throughout these films, but not once has there ever been a mention of Dom having a brother despite the family being a mainstay in the series of films.
Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are living an idyllic life on a secluded farm in an undisclosed location until they are visited by friends — or "family", if you will — of theirs who have information about Mr. Nobody's (Kurt Russell) plane crashed in a nondescript foreign country with not so friendly members of an army. This leads to a sinister plot involving Cypher (Charlize Theron) and Dom's estranged brother, Jacob (John Cena). Revenge is in their hearts. Dom and his family must save the world once again.
Along the way, the family runs into a few familiar faces that play a role in this ridiculous revenge plot by Cena, Theron, and their benefactor. The money man if you will. The Shaws' mother (Helen Mirren) gets involved with Diesel when they go to the UK. Her thieving ways are still on her mind. The duo from Tokyo Drift is back as well. Lucas Black and Bow Wow help in getting the crew some cars while in Europe. A suped-up Fiero plays a major part in the film as well. The biggest return in the film, in a head-scratching move, is Han (Sung Kang), who died at the end of Furious 7...
This franchise has been known for some amazing set pieces in its history and this film doesn't let viewers down on that account. The first action scene in that nondescript foreign country was quite breathtaking, to say the least. It involved racing through a minefield and ended with Cena's character racing off the side of a cliff only to be magnetized to the bottom of an oncoming stealthy plain and Diesel's car hooking itself to a wire, similar to a scene in Hobbs and Shaw, and pulling his car across a ravine with a bridge that was destroyed. This is the tip of the iceberg on action scenes in this film.
Sometimes the plot and stories in these films can leave a little bit to be desired. A lot of the time, they are revenge plots involved with saving the world. This film is no different than the others. It's a paint-by-numbers version of many of the previous plots of films in this franchise and action films in general. These films have gotten away from racing cars and turned into saving the world from men and women who are bent on world domination. When did this franchise become a superhero franchise? Needless to say, the story in this film is ridiculous and goes way beyond anything that is in an intelligent thought process. It's incomprehensible!
Justin Lin is no stranger to the Fast and the Furious franchise. He directed four other installments in this series, including some of the most successful films in the franchise. That being said, this film is a step backward from Fast & Furious 6, but it's not as bad as Tokyo Drift. It's somewhere in the middle of the rankings of this series of films. It has some action scenes that are comparable with the other films in the franchise, but it lacks the originality of other action films. Lin goes to the well too many times on this so-called family angle. I'm just fed up with these story beats.
The Fast Saga has worn itself thin. It has used so many tropes over and over again to the point of being ridiculously overused. The action scenes are good, but except for the opening scene, are nothing special. The dialogue in the film is so dull and infantile that a child could do better with it than Diesel, Cena, and other returning characters. This film contradicted itself from previous films in the franchise and that, to me, is the ultimate sin for Lin and company. Universal has been going to the well one too many times and it shows by how old and stale this film is. It's one of the worst in the franchise!
F9 hits theaters on June 25.