Fast and Furious 9 review: Ridiculously entertaining action makes up for naff dialogue
Fast 9: Ludacris teases space scene in latest Fast and Furious
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After over a year’s delay, the family are finally back in Fast and Furious 9. It’s been 20 years since Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto first hit the big screen and now he’s back with an even more bonkers and globe-trotting thrill ride. Alongside all the usual suspects in the cast from Michelle Rodriguez to Tyrese Gibson, Justin Lin returns to direct his fifth film in the franchise after taking a break from the last two billon-dollar outings.
This time around Dom and Letty are forced back into action with their street racing crew, in a mission to stop a “world-shattering plot by the most skilled assassin and high-performance driver they’ve ever encountered.”
And who else could it be but Dom’s long-lost brother, a character who’s not been mentioned until nine films in, played by John Cena.
We’re first introduced to him during one of a number of flashbacks to 1989 when Dom witnessed his father’s death in a race; an incident he’s convinced his brother Jakob orchestrated.
But let’s not go into the plot details further at risk of spoilers, when what really matters is whether or not Fast and Furious 9 is worth being your first big return to the cinema.
If you’re turning up for a world-class script and character development, perhaps stay at home with Netflix.
But if you’re up for some ridiculously entertaining action set pieces and you’re willing to suspend belief, then grab the popcorn and get ready for another wild ride.
Sadly the B-movie dialogue is naff and uninspiring, with a number of jokes landing thinly, although there is one about Yoda by a scene-stealing Charlize Theron that did get make us chuckle.
Additionally, the scripting has fully embraced meta humour, with Gibson’s Roman pointing out how absurd it is that the team survive their various stunts across the movies with nothing but a scratch.
While this is a worthy attempt at self-parody, sadly the tongue-in-cheek nature is somewhat overshadowed by sickly sentimentalism.
These overtly cheesy moments turn up in scenes reminiscent of Hallmark movies, in which Dom and others emphasise the importance of family (a stalwart of the franchise) with a Corona beer in hand.
Nevertheless, the best part of the storyline is the build-up of different character’s arcs across the franchise, with some familiar faces crossing over properly for the first time.
One particular highlight was seeing Lucas Black reprise Sean from Tokyo Drift and a brief cameo in Furious 7.
John Cena causes Chinese outrage after calling Taiwan a country [JOHN CENA]
Fast and Furious 9: Tokyo Drift star Lucas Black talks Sean return [TOKYO DRIFT]
Fast and Furious 9 Vin Diesel: ‘Toretto’s origins will blow your mind’ [VIN DIESEL]
While the big shock of the film was the return of Sung Kang’s Han, whose reason for not dying in a car crash in Japan – an incident retconned for the second time around – is somewhat dubious.
Nevertheless, what would be a 2 star film is saved by 4 star action, hence our 3 stars overall. Fast and Furious 9’s high-octane set pieces really are terrific fun and even led to spontaneous bursts of applause in our cinema audience.
From Cena’s Jakob driving off a cliff to be caught mid-air by a jet’s magnet, to some hilarious outer space hijinks with Gibson’s Roman and Ludacris’ Tej.
While travelling around the world for car chases along surprisingly empty roads and watching Helen Mirren’s Queenie evade London bobbies in a high-speed pursuit were particularly enjoyable.
Fast and Furious 9: John Cena stars in epic sequel
If anything, what was really missing from Fast 9 was Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham’s Hobbs and Shaw. The duo had their own brilliant solo outing in 2019 and those characters never take themselves too seriously.
But with the Fast and Furious saga set to conclude with a two-parter across a couple more blockbusters, we’re hopeful they’ll be back for the big finale.
And who knows, maybe the wonders of modern technology and the help of his brothers again will bring back the late Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner?
Fast and Furious 9 hits UK cinemas on Thursday, June 24, 2021.
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