The Movie Guru: “F9” a high-octane thrill ride
Some things don't have to be good to be entertaining.
For many people, the “Fast & Furious” series fits into that category. The plots are absurd, the action is so over the top it belongs in a cartoon, and Vin Diesel’s acting never rises above mediocrity. Yet, somehow, the best moments of the series pull all of this together into a delightfully ridiculous, surprisingly addictive action extravaganza. If you like the flavor, they’re the potato chips of movies — you can’t stop at just one.
If the “Fast & Furious” movies are your cinematic snack food of choice, then you’ll definitely want a taste of “F9: The Fast Saga.” The movie brings back some of the lightness missing in the last installment, letting itself have fun without eliminating any of the danger. Though the plot is even more ridiculous than usual, the action is fantastic and some new character dynamics prove particularly satisfying.
As usual, the plot involves the F9 crew battling a mysterious group for control of a device that could cause damage on an international scale. This is sprinkled with personal plot twists that feel like they were pulled straight out of a telenovela, which for those who don’t know is the much more intense, dramatic version of American soap operas. In every spare second of screen time that’s left, people do deeply entertaining things with cars, motorcycles and the occasional rocket.
In fact, a big portion of the series’ delightful absurdity comes from the things these people try to do with vehicles. Previous entries have involved robbing a vault with cars and parachuting out of a plane while still inside a car, and though I don’t want to give spoilers I will say that F9 escalates that dramatically. The fantasy physics involved are beyond what you’d usually find even in an action movie, ending up more in line with what you’d usually find in a cartoon.
Even when the stunts are slightly more mundane, the car chases are wonderful. Where else would you get to see the great Helen Mirrin drive a very fast car like she (literally) stole it? There are also several good fight scenes, an increase over previous entries to the series.
Though less dramatic, the characters are also a surprisingly appealing part of the “Fast & Furious” experience. There’s no high-quality acting here, but the core cast has a ton of chemistry together. That makes all of their interactions more interesting than what is necessarily reflected by the script, especially when this latest entry pairs two of the women together for their own adventure. “F9” also continues the tradition of bringing back characters from previous movies as sort of an Easter egg for longtime fans.
In the end, “F9” is one of those movies that unironically deserves to be called a “high-octane thrill ride.” Sometimes, that’s all you need.
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Utah Film Critics Association. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.