Yes you read that right, Fast and Furious NINE! What started out life 20 years ago about gangs street racing souped up cars and nicking DVD players, has morphed into a bonkers action franchise where the gang (read ‘family’) are all seemingly invincible superheroes that go on Mission Impossible style quests.
This time their task is to stop Dom’s little brother Jakob (John Cena), F8’s Cipher (Charlize Theron), and spoilt rich kid Otto (Thue Ersted Rasmussen) from obtaining and using the magical macguffin aries – which can hack into satellites and computer weapons systems of course – to control and rewrite the world in their favour. As always the plot is just a vehicle for the bonkers action, and the Fast saga’s obsession with all things family – this time it is a brotherly spat gone awry.
As for action the start is great, with the usual cacophony of mental car races, chases, shootouts and crashes – with the most eye-catching set pieces being that rope bridge scene, and Jakobs car being picked up in mid air by a magnetic plane. The ending is reliably crazy as well, with the comedy double act Tej and Roman (Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson) blasting a rocket powered car into space.
It is the large bit in the middle which is the problem, it is surprisingly boring. It is a barrage of bruising fights and dull dialogue, with insanely big magnets thrown in. A trick nicked from Michael Bay’s silly 6 Underground, which does it much better. It does not know what tone to strike either as it flip flops between sombre, flashback driven anguish to silly, tongue in cheek japes. The flashbacks, largely about Dom, Jakob and their dad, are there to try and make them seem human. This attempt to engender empathy does not work as all the major incidents are thoroughly predictable, and just makes for melodramatic fluff. Oh and somehow Han (Sung Kang) has come back from the dead, inadvertently evoking Dirty Den.
With a stale story, a barrage of silly yet mostly tedious action and the sorely missed presence of Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, F9 is a caricature of itself with a fun beginning and end but a monotonous middle.
It makes for a fun drinking game though, take a swig for any of these;
- Incessant mention of family.
- A big party replete with scantily clad women and expensive cars.
- A big family BBQ scene.
- Someone drinking a corona.
- Roman shouting.
- Someone landing on the roof of a vehicle from a great height – because lorries and cars are soft!
- An impressively dramatic gear change.