F9 is officially running on car fumes. With no rhyme or reason, the title has now been shortened to simply F9 or the even more bizarre F9: The Fast Saga. We had to wait an entire year for it thanks to the Pandemic. This time Corona was their enemy. After 9 whole movies (and a spin-off), the Fast & Furious franchise continues to complicate a franchise built on fast cars and beautiful woman. Hobbs & Shaw was a dumb fun detour, but Dwayne Johnson officially wants nothing to do with Vin Diesel. So he had to be replaced by another professional wrestler turned actor. Except that John Cena ended up playing Dom’s long lost brother who conveniently hasn’t been mentioned until the 9th freaking installment. That’s one thing, but Cena also looks nothing like Diesel or Jordana Brewster. Despite being retired the same time that Brian was, Mia returns since there’s too much family drama at stake.
Jakob Toretto is a master thief, assassin, and high performance driver trying to take over the world with yet another McGuffin called Project Aries that can control all technology or something. A bratty Danish aristocrat finances his mission and Charlize Theron’s Cipher is now imprisoned with an even more ridiculous bowl cut. Dom and Letty come out of retirement after dropping off their son Brian with Brian. With Mr. Nobody out of the picture, the team now consists of: Dom, Letty, Rome, Tej, and Ramsey. Helen Mirren only returns for an out of nowhere car chase and Jason Statham only shows up for a surprise cameo. Since director Justin Lin returns after a 3 movie absence, Sung Kang returns as Han in the most nonsensical way possible. Despite the franchise spanning magnitude of his death, Han is only around to protect a girl linked to the doomsday device.
Normally I enjoy the increasingly convoluted franchise, but F9 feels off with a new writer and an overlong runtime. There are several flashbacks explaining how Dom and Jakob became estranged. Despite the out of nowhere presence of Cardi B, the only cars and butts scene is a classy all-white dress party. Jokes also have poor timing with far too much self awareness from Rome about how they keeping escaping death. At least the action is still awesome despite physics no longer existing. A car swings from a rope bridge, Dom tackles his brother from a zipline, and high powered magnets are used in several car chases. But F9 is the movie that finally sends the team into space. The crew from Tokyo Drift somehow became rocket scientists who send a car piloted by Rome and Tej into space. I have no clue where the franchise could possibly go from here, but F9 feels like peak brainlessness.
Preceded by: The Fate of the Furious