“F9” was directed by Justin Lin and stars Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Jordana Brewster, and the rest of the “Fast Saga” crew. It follows Dom Toretto as he faces off against his brother (played by John Cena) and… you know the rest of the “plot.“ Really, the film is an excuse for over-the-top action sequences and messages about family, just like the franchise’s previous installments. Some of that is a good thing, and some of that isn’t.
“F9” succeeds as an action film, largely due to director Justin Lin’s experience in helming action. The sequences have plenty of energy and almost no overly short takes, shaky cam, or quick-cut editing. The setpieces (while incredibly stupid) are a lot of fun to watch. If you want cars crashing through buildings, people crashing through buildings, or people destroying buildings by tearing ceilings down with only their bare hands, you’ll be satisfied.
The suspension of disbelief in terms of action ebbs and flows. For example, I’m willing to suspend my disbelief to see a car strapped to a rocket engine launch into space because it’s hilarious. However, I can’t turn my brain off while watching people drop from 80 feet in the air onto the roof of a car. That isn’t entertaining or funny enough to justify itself, at least in my opinion.
Something that’s always great in these movies is the chemistry/banter between the crew. Tyrese Gibson as Roman was hilarious once again, and it’s always fun to see him and Ludacris’ character argue. The cast was good all around (except for John Cena, who brought zero charisma) and everyone seemed to still care about the franchise despite doing these films for so long.
The film’s main problem is the family drama. Normally it’s fun to watch Dom Toretto give his speeches about family that make no sense in these movies, but only in small doses. There must be at least 10 family monologues in this film — it becomes insufferable after a while. There are many flashbacks inserted throughout the film which are meant to give context to why Dom and his brother became estranged, so each time someone will say lines like “there is nothing more powerful than the love of family” (that’s an actual line from the movie). Speaking of Dom’s estranged brother, the film does a poor job of explaining why he was never mentioned or why he turned evil in the first place. The flashbacks explain why they don’t like each other, but there’s nothing to support Dom’s brother becoming a master assassin.
“F9” is exactly what you would expect. It’s enjoyable enough, but it lacks any real substance and it’s ultimately another forgettable film from this franchise. Plus, movies like this prevent original films from being made, so if you have to watch it, try to see it on cable for free.