Fast 9 will not disappoint long-time fans of The Fast Saga
F9: THE FAST SAGA (2021)
It’s hard to believe that the Fast Saga started 20 years ago with The Fast and The Furious - a ‘Point Blank-esque’ tale about a group of car-racing, DVD-player stealing criminals. Now, in 2021, we arrive at the ninth-installment (tenth if you’re counting spin-offs) of the franchise which has seen our ‘family’ evolve of the last two decades into physics-defying, world-saving, superhero-spies that once again band together in order to protect the human race in Fast 9.
Fast 9 sees the return of Justin Lin (director of 4 previous installments of the Fast Saga), and what a fitting return he is to this movie. Lin ultimately is the architect behind the overall vibe of these movies, with his directorial style and passion for this story behind the camera shaping the constant one-upping style of insanity that each movie is famous for. After a wayward entry with F. Gary Gray’s The Fate of The Furious - it comes as a breath of relief that Fast 9 was directed by someone who knows the franchise so well. This feels like a Fast and Furious movie, and that’s because of Justin Lin, who constructs jaw-dropping action set pieces that literally have to be seen to be believed (or at least suspend large amounts of belief to enjoy) but also creates hilarious and heartfelt moments with our beloved characters in between the insanity.
Plot wise, Fast 9 however errs more on the side of: ‘you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all’. Aside from the villainous inclusion of John Cena as Jakob Torreto (Dom Toretto’s long-lost brother), this movie is almost a carbon copy structurally of the last few movies - even down to the technology that the team is trying to obtain (enter device that will cause the technological downfall of mankind here).
We also see the return of a few beloved characters from previous films… films in which they pretty much most certainly died. Does Fast 9 provide reasonable explanations for their returns? No. It’s swept under the rug, but in a cinematic universe where a stealth drone catches a car in mid air with a big magnet, I’m willing to let those story flaws off without prosecution.
For a film that almost hits 2 ½ hours in length, it’s paced reasonably well, but that must be attributed to the lengthy and excessive action scenes, and not due to its emotionally rich plot.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Much like the plot, the performances also leave a bit to be desired. Vin Diesel alternates between angry, stoic look and side-grin, stoic look. If that’s the main criteria that has to be filled to enter the franchise, then John Cena fits in perfectly too with a pretty substandard performance as the movies primary villain. However, it’s the comedic relief of Tyrese and Ludacris as Roman and Tej respectively that bring this score up because every scene they’re in together brings on belly laughs. A scene with a back-and-forth about whether after all these years and missions, they might actually be invincible stands out as a highlight for both of these actors.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Do you like fast cars, hand-to-hand combat and explosions? Then you’ll love what Fast 9 has on offer. With a solid amount of practical effects on display (especially cars smashing and bashing into each other), this film is a visual overload Throughout, there is a touch of noticeable CGI that is not necessarily up to Hollywood-blockbuster standard, but if you were to throw a percentage of that CGI and compare it to the practical stunts and effects, I think the latter would far outweigh. The sets look amazing and are utilised (destroyed majestically) in every set piece.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Fast 9 is the equivalent of the dude-bro-frat-guy drunkenly shouting next to you at a party or football game. It’s loud and obnoxious, but if he was going to do it anywhere, you’re glad it’s at these places. That’s exactly what this movie is. The gunfire is loud, the explosions are loud, the cars are loud - and it all works for a Fast and Furious movie. Even if this term has been said too many times in the post-pandemic cinema era, Fast 9’s sound design has been created for the cinema experience as it’s an auditory massacre that matches the visual overload. Along with a pretty decent and noticeable soundtrack/score, the sound design is a highlight for Fast 9.
Fast 9 will not disappoint long-time fans of The Fast Saga. Much like its predecessors, Lin once again goes bigger with insane, ridiculous and fun actions and stunts throughout. And while the plot leaves more to be desired, all the film asks is that you switch the brain off and rejoin the ‘family’ for what could be it’s penultimate film.
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