Length: 143 minutes
Director: Justin Lin
Writers: Daniel Casey and Justin Lin, with story credits for Alfredo Botello
Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Helen Mirren, Kurt Russell, Charlize Theron, Vinnie Bennett, and Finn Cole.
In theatres 24 June (Singapore)
4 out of 5 stars
With all the insane shenanigans that the protagonists get up to on a regular basis in the films, the Fast & Furious franchise is fast becoming a superhero series with cars and races. Fast & Furious 9 delivers on that premise, as the team goes to the ends of the Earth — and beyond — as they race to stop a global terrorist's plans. And with the number of superhuman leaps and crazy car stunts, you could almost believe that they've got actual superpowers.
Fast & Furious 9, also known as F9, is an action film that's the tenth in the Fast & Furious franchise. The film sees Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew returning to face off against global terrorists and their old enemy, Cipher. It explores Dom's past and introduces a new villain — his brother Jakob Toretto (John Cena) — as the team is pushed to their limits to stop this new threat to the world.
By now, the Fast & Furious series knows what audiences are here for. So while it starts with Dom and his family enjoying their happy ever after from the previous movie, it wastes no time and quickly plunges us into the action set pieces that we're here to watch, complete with cars driving off cliffs (and landing safely in airplanes) and literal midair drifts. It's like pumping adrenaline into your veins as you watch them attempt death-defying feat after death-defying feat, and escaping with nary a scratch (and some token splashes of blood). Check out our interview with the F9 director, Justin Lin, here.
While the centrepiece stunt of the film doesn't quite manage to top the previous movie's submarine chase across an ice floe, it pretty much equals it. The film sees Dom and his brother teaming up to flip a three-sectioned armoured truck overhead, all with the help of giant electromagnets. It's a glorious moment when you see the monstrously long vehicle's rear rising up into midair, even as the vehicle's front pivots precipitously on the ground. It defies belief to see how perfectly it's executed, but then that's the point of the film, isn't it — to see Dom and his crew take on the impossible.
The other action scenes also take on an almost superheroic air, with the good guys mowing down hordes of armed soldiers, sometimes with their bare hands. The aforementioned giant electromagnets also play a significant part in the film, and you can almost feel the glee of the filmmakers as they set up stunts based around this prop. We also get the requisite brawl between the two heavyweights of the film, Vin Diesel and John Cena, and it's fun to see the two musclemen go at it. The pair battle and make amazing jumps through a city as they traverse rooftops, bridges, and lorries to eke out a victory. Predictably, the fight ends in a bit of a wash.
However, you know that Jakob is going to come around to helping the good guys eventually. As with several other elements in the series, it's almost expected that any villain who's played by a famous actor like Cena will ally with Dom and his team at some point, like how Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) and Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) have in previous movies. So you're just waiting for Jakob to defect and assist the good guys — he's too good a character to waste as a one-time-only villain. The other antagonist of the film is the throwaway bad guy who gets what's coming to him, so at least someone is punished for the carnage doled out in the movie.
Charlize Theron reprises her role as Cipher from the last movie, but she spends most of her time locked up in this instalment. It's a pity, because she's obviously the baddie that steals the show, and the other villains are just placeholders until Cipher makes her return. It's already been established that she'll be the recurring nemesis for the series (which has way too many heroes at this point), so it's a waste to have her be sidelined for a good portion of the movie.
The film also feels overly long, thanks to the inclusion of copious flashback scenes involving the Toretto brothers in their youth. While these serve to fill in the blanks regarding the relationship between the heretofore unseen Jakob and Dom, they're not particularly interesting, nor do they reveal any information that couldn't be delivered in a short conversation. Vinnie Bennett and Finn Cole, who play young Dom and Jakob respectively, don't have the charisma to hold your attention during those scenes.
Fast & Furious 9 is a crazy ride that sees Dom and his crew add another ally to their list, even as they face off against an old nemesis. The vehicular stunts teeter on the edge of unbelievability, but their smooth and classy execution still manage to make them a treat to watch. It's another worthy instalment in the Fast & Furious series. Stay back at the end for a mid-credits scene involving one of the Shaw brothers.
Here are more stills from the movie:
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