(from left) Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Dom (Vin Diesel) in "F9," directed by Justin Lin.

Fast and Furious 9 – movie review

If there was any doubt The Fast and Furious franchise couldn’t up the ante, #9 eradicates that. Think outer space and mega magnetic force for starters. It’s action-packed from start to finish, with no shortage of surprises. The central concept is a feud between two brothers as a result of their father’s untimely death on a racetrack. At stake is the future of the world, courtesy of an ability to control all the planet’s computer power.

The bros are Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his younger sibling Jakob (John Cena), long considered the weaker. A revelation during the course of the picture explains the antipathy between them. Characters thought dead or gone forever are reintroduced. When the movie starts, Dom is enjoying solitude with his young son Brian, teaching him the nuts and bolts of fixing cars.

In close proximity is the kick-butt action heroine and his sidekick Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who has had designs on him seemingly forever. Suddenly, familial bliss is interrupted by members of Dom’s crew, who have received an encrypted message from Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell), who’s in trouble. That sees the team reunite on a dangerous mission, which starts with navigating a minefield.

Behind a plan to bring the planet to its knees through something called Project Aries is Jakob and his partner, Otto (Thue Ersted Rasmussen). That involves joining two disparate domes that glow green and igniting omnipotence with a key, but hardly a traditional one. In their corner (or is she?), constantly sniping, is Cipher (Charlize Theron).

Justin Lin returns to the director’s chair (he is also the co-writer of the screenplay, alongside Daniel Casey) for the first time since 2013 for his fifth “go” at the F & F behemoth.  As can only be expected, lots of “stuff” is shot up, blown up and pulverised. This is special effects and stunt heaven. Car, truck, plane and chopper chases are par for the course … at an extreme degree of difficulty. Among those demonstrating their incomparable driving prowess is Queenie (Helen Mirren).

F & F 9 adopts a more-is-more approach.  Everything about it is big and loud, including the soundtrack. As slick as it is, the basic contention and its execution are all too ridiculous. Also, at nearly 2½ hours it feels bloated, notwithstanding the fact that the script writers have found clever ways to reintroduce favourite franchise characters.

So, while it ticks some of the boxes to excite die-hard fans of the franchise, Fast & Furious 9 is not best of breed.

Alex First

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