F9 - The Fast Saga: Cars, Guns, Magnets, and SPACE!!!!!

By Deep Guha

Film franchises like the Transformer, Bad Boys, Death Race run of three things: loyal followers, adrenaline-induced mayhem, and spectacular sequences with no regard for scientific accuracy. And perhaps of all of these action movie franchises, none come close to The Fast And The Furious franchise in terms of fanbase and revenue generation. The Vin Diesel and Paul Walker led series has been criticised, applauded, and awed upon since its inception for its over the top characters, hyper-masculinity, sometimes misogynistic portrayals of women. The franchise has also become one of the biggest influences on real-life street racing and card-mod culture. It has gone from being about illegal underground street racing thrillers to heists on wheels to full-blown super-spy movies, and Fast 9 takes the series out of the world(more on that later). But there’s no denying that the franchise is one of the biggest and commercially profitable sagas in modern cinema history.

Photo by Skye Studios on Unsplash

F9’s plot is simple and complex at the same time. Dom(Vin Diesel) and Letty(Michelle Rodriguez) are living a quiet life with their son Brian when Roman(Tyrese Gibson) and Tej(Ludacris) come knocking with bad news. Mr Nobody(Kurt Russell) has gone missing and Cipher(Charlize Theron) has been escorted out of captivity by Jakob(John Cena), Dom’s undermined and evil younger brother who’s on a mission of, you guessed it, world domination. The rest of the team including Mia(Jordana Brewster), Han(Sung Kang), Ramsey(Nathalie Emmanuel) then tear through cities with cars, guns, giant magnets and more in order to stop Jakob and his crew. The film also dwells upon Dom and Jakob’s childhood and the impact his father’s death had on their family. There is so much to untangle that it almost borders on exhaustion, but in the end, the stunts, the cars, and the characters are all there is to it, at least for the most part.

Long time franchise director Justin Lin returns to direct this instalment and that is perhaps the saving grace that the franchise needed(if it did need any). He diligently expands the mythos of Dom’s family and team to have some kind of emotional struggle. He resurrects Han; brings back a key member of Dom’s team along with other important characters such as Sean Boswell(Lucas Black), Twinkie(Bow Wow), from The Fast And The Furious:

Tokyo Drift, Agent Michael Stasiak(Shea Whigham) from Fast & Furious 4 and some others. The film retcons whatever had taken place since Lin left the franchise and tries to build on it. But to what success is a question that the fans must answer.

These decisions have resulted in a film that defies logic(as if it ever took it into account); and taps on the key factor of family, an ethos that is something that was promoted as a part of the two films that preceded it, but was never there, at least in the way that the franchise stood for in its initial days. Lin tries to bring emotional legitimacy, something that was also missing from the franchise and is successful to varying degrees.

The film utilises every set-piece to its strength, the chemistry between Diesel and Cena is palpable and the antagonism between the two powerhouses is refreshingly different from what Diesel and Johnson had when they first met in Fast 5, which was also one of the key moments in the franchise’s evolution and overall narrative development. It also looks like the franchise has a soft spot for WWE champions with star power, as the appearance of John Cena marks the third WWE superstar to feature in the franchise. The Rock and Roman Reigns(Hobbs & Shaw) being the previous ones.

But that’s not all, in this film, Roman and Tej go to OUTER SPACE!. In a car, a friggin’ Pontiac Fiero strapped with rocket boosters, and eventually find themselves floating outside the International Space Station. A move so outrageous that could only be pulled off by an outrageous franchise such as this one. The performance of the main cast is as expected. Everyone is everything that they have come to be seen as in the last 20 years. This is also the first time the film acknowledges its superhuman feats in a very funny and meta way.

Overall, the film is what people have come to expect from the saga, and actually is the best one since Fast 5 if you see it through an objective lens, which I imagine will be hard for many viewers out there. Returning fans will enjoy it to the core while casual fans may find it just amusing enough to keep them in front of the screen.