Anyone Who Dislikes 'F9' Gets a Noogie

Directed by Justin Lin

Starring Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster, John Cena, Charlize Theron, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Helen Mirren, Kurt Russell

BY Nicholas SokicPublished Jun 24, 2021

F9 is, as evidenced by its title, the ninth entry in the Fast and Furious franchise (not counting the 2019 spinoff, Hobbs & Shaw). It's 2 hours and 25 minutes, directed by Justin Lin, and stars Vin Diesel and his "family." It has screenwriters, as much as any movie with a $200 million budget has screenwriters.

That's the review in a nutshell. It doesn't much matter what's written here, in much the same way that physics cease to matter within the movie's runtime. Does it matter that the movie is, for stretches at a time, a heavily expositional retcon of not only previous films but also scenes that occurred 40 minutes prior? Or that the quality of acting swings wildly across the pendulum of the movie's ensemble? Shut up, nerd. Watch as Dom Toretto chokeholds gravity and superhero slams his way through walls.

When F9 is dumb fun, it succeeds at being dumb and fun. It's a tricky combo to nail, but its action scenes broadly pass the test. There's a perilous drive through a minefield, an impromptu car grappling hook, and magnets so powerful they're able to pull a car right through buildings.

The problem lies mostly in all the bloat between the highlights. Any series that's nine parts in is going to have plenty of baggage. Long-dead characters making an unconvincing return and half-baked arcs that are mostly used to prop up the conflict between Vin Diesel and his heretofore unmentioned evil brother Jakob (John Cena) being some of the most egregious offences. Of the main characters, Jordana Brewster's Mia gets the shortest of shrifts, as she's a nonentity in half a dozen flashbacks from Dom and Jakob's youth. Worse still, Oscar-winning action star Charlize Theron is confined to a literal villain box for what was probably a single day of shooting.

Fans will enjoy it. It's still got enough dependable amusement. It simply asks for much more patience from its audience as it laboriously moves its melodramatic chess pieces around in between each hysterical set piece.

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