It may be set all over the world, but the entire Fast and Furious saga is still as American as they come, with all of its glorious action and complete disregard to anything realistic. So we of course should expect nothing less from F9: The Fast Saga. Now, I actually haven’t seen any of the other movies in the series, so I walked into this one completely blind. Frankly, watching this hasn’t convinced me that the other eight movies which came before are worth my time.
As figured, the plot is structurally, tonally, and psychologically an incomprehensible mess. There is way too much time spent on flashbacks, which would be okay if it developed the relationship between the two main brothers, but they don’t. The matters of the plot are set into gear right away before there’s even proper setup for all the characters to make anyone in the audience care even a little. There’s more development behind the way Vin Diesel straight-up commits murder on multiple occasions as if he was in an 80s action movie; he has a fistfight in someone else’s home, breaking everything, because the destruction is more important than giving any character moments in the action. There could be a little saving grace if the action looked any good, but it has amateur written all over it—you can tell by the amount of grain that some shots were cropped in post-production, which will only look worse as this movie ages more. There are only two visual components that work: 1. The stylized closed captions, and 2. Charlize Theron’s tastefully bad hairstyle.
If the cheap look of the film wasn’t insulting enough, the dialogue continues to be an absolute joke. I mean that in the most literal sense because the lines are either sick attempts at humor or trying to be self-aware. That may mean going on and on (during a car chase by the way) about what “peligro” means in English, or it may mean someone saying while making a hypothetical, “If this were a movie…” That actually happens quite a bit in this movie, particularly from Tyrese Gibson’s character, who constantly acknowledges how absurd the series’ logic has become. In addition, Vin’s voice is so rough you can’t understand what he’s saying most of the time, as if he’s so perplexed by the bad dialogue that he’s resorting to mumbling his way through the shoot day. In the way these gorgeous people talk, they seem to convey that regular citizens are inferior compared to these spies, which in turn would mean cops can’t help solve society’s problems to the same extent of these killers above the law.
Don’t even get me started on the intentional disregard to any logic. There are already the expected plot conveniences such as the perfectly placed trucks during a road fight, there’s guys smashing through windows and getting no cuts on their flesh, but it gets insanely more ridiculous than that. Gravity is given a middle finger as they drive over a rickety old bridge… while it’s falling… and they make it across safely as if it wasn’t even falling. One of these high-tech cars also has a grappling hook for the sole purpose of swinging around cliffs, which is indeed an oddly specific invention that only a moron would think of. Oh, and they actually build a rocket and go into space. I’m not kidding. I get that this all is supposed to be fun and all, but the problem is that this whole movie is taking itself so seriously. While it does go for the occasional funny moments, it’s ultimately trying to play it straight. How can I take a movie seriously if it can’t decide which it wants to be?
Now, this is Justin Lin’s fifth film in the franchise he’s directing, and he’s showing a little merit by including a cross necklace as a free motif. The religious symbolism spreads onto the main baddie, Jakob, as he at one point dresses in a way that makes him look like a priest… a real angry priest. So Lin could have some directing chops if directing a religious crime-thriller; too bad though he can’t properly crop an actor in their introductions. Although Lin is great at drawing attention to the awful CGI backgrounds and planes that look like they’re from the PS3, and great at making you notice the music since it’s so much louder than the sound effects. If that wasn’t enough of a shut-off, there’s also a bit of social irresponsibility: some of these spies talk about how spooky and weird Edinburgh is, including its people, and this one scary looking tatted guy with tall teeth seems to represent most of these countries the gang travels to.
You only come to these movies for the action you say? Well, bad news: it fails at that too. Here, the moments of gunfire, punching, and kicking are ultimately boring. It seems that they’re missing something… maybe we would know what that something is if the script eliminated most of the characters, as the majority have no reason to be here. I guarantee that if there were something there to actually challenge the protagonists, then there would have been more to exploit the creative potential of the fight sequences. The only action spectacle that somehow works is the prologue set in 1989, when a car explodes into flames in midair, with lots of edits replaying it happen. It works well as an opening hook, but nothing immediately following that can sustain that attention. Instead, time is spent lingering on more important things like a bunch of gorgeous women all dressed in white at a party, because who has time for well-developed female characters these days?
It truly baffles me how the Fast and Furious franchise could have been so successful over twenty years that they’re still making movies with no sign of slowing down. Even while F9: The Fast Saga wasn’t quite as talked about as the other movies, I know an audience for it still exists out there. If you are one of those people who still gives money to these pieces of scrap heap, I must ask, “Why? What’s motivating you to sit through the same thing for the ninth time?”
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!