F9

The "Fast and Furious" franchise is one of the most interesting out there. Officially over twenty years old, we've gone from stealing DVD players in film one to going to space in film nine. It's certainly a broad leap that many fans, including myself, have managed to appreciate. So as the credits rolled on this ninth installment, there was only one question in my mind: why after pulling safes through Rio, taking down a plane, jumping a car through three buildings and outracing a submarine, didn't I have more fun here? In this ninth installment, we reunite with the Toretto clan lead by Vin Diesel, forced to go up against his long-lost brother Jakob (John Cena). This leads them into a web of spies and espionage that pits them against old enemies like Cipher (Charlize Theron) and reunites them with old friends. 

The plot is what many would call the "bare-bones" structure of the story. It certainly doesn't spoil the ridiculous plotting, paper-thin characters and needless two-and-a-half-hour runtime. If you have followed this franchise in any capacity, you're going into this one knowing what to expect. From a technical standpoint, the stunts here are thoroughly impressive. When riding through a jungle in fast cars while being shot at, I was thrilled. Even in a fight that spans across buildings in Edinburgh to cars that are giant magnets, it is a blast to watch. There's a real joy as a film fan to watch these sequences no matter how crazy they become. 

The factor of F9 that left me so frustrated was just how mind-numbing it all becomes. Anyone who follows this franchise knows that it is Vin Diesel's baby. He certainly markets it to death and can bring in some pretty significant actors. Over many films, we've had roles from Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham and even Kurt Rusell. They're certainly above Diesel's caliber of acting and made films 5-8 have a fun energy. When those actors aren't in the film, you can really feel it. Say what you will about their character arcs in the franchise, but there's at least a sense of knowing what sort of movie it is. The same is said for actors in the film like Helen Mirren, Theron and even Russell, but the film gives them brief moments on screen without anything to do. 

Actors like Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez try holding their own and are enjoyable. The problem is that none of them are anywhere near as interesting as the folks who don't appear or barely appear in this ninth installment. Even casting someone like Cena in the melodramatic, angry "long-lost brother" role is reduced to nothing besides a grunting baddie. Is he menacing? Sure, but no emotion succeeds in making us care about him or his relationship with Dom. In a franchise focused on family, it's a frustrating detail especially involving the reveal of Han (who was killed by Statham's Deckard in Fast and Furious 6) being alive. 

If you've seen the trailer, the "#JusticeforHan" hashtag hints at the return of a fan-favorite character. Prepare to be disappointed in an explanation that's so nonsensical that it makes the magnet cars seem more logical. Unfortunately, logic is something that the FF franchise has long since forgotten about, and F9 is no exception. Even when the film tries to acknowledge that between conversations that Gibson and Ludacris have, the "meta-humor" never lands. I'm all for these guys being superheroes, but I'd much rather them be "Mission Impossible" types over "The Avengers."

Rating: 4.5/10

Watch Trailer Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSiDu3Ywi8E

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