The Fast and Furious Franchise, which first appeared twenty years ago (2001), just keeps rolling along, gather speed rather than dust, always with a few new guest stars (in this case John Cena playing Dom’s long lost brother Jakob). This particular iteration of this series of movies gets only a 62% rating on Rotten Tomatoes perhaps in part because it is too long and lags in places (2 hours and 25 minutes, not counting the infinite ads and previews up front), but mainly because there is too little poignancy and pathos in this one. And of course, when so much of the movie is about extended fight or racing scenes like it’s predecessors, it is hard to top some of the previous stunts, stand out car wrecks, and simply impossible crash scenes which leave Dom and the gang with hardly a scratch. Talk about stretching credulity way past the point of believability. You don’t have to just suspend your disbelief, you have to turn off your thinking and just watch one gigantic scene after another. The question arises as to when such scenes become a sort of parody of an action movie rather than an example of it.
This is not to say that there are not some enjoyable and funny scenes along the way, and the emphasis on family is very welcome. It’s just I don’t want to be part of the family whose motto seems to be ‘the family that kills together, spills together, and thrills together.’ Here’s Rotten Tomatoes summary of the film—“Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto is leading a quiet life off the grid with Letty and his son, little Brian, but they know that danger always lurks just over their peaceful horizon. This time, that threat will force Dom to confront the sins of his past if he’s going to save those he loves most. His crew joins together to stop a world-shattering plot led by the most skilled assassin and high-performance driver they’ve ever encountered: a man who also happens to be Dom’s forsaken brother, Jakob (John Cena)”.
In the end, this film does have some helpful lessons about not prejudging someone when you don’t know all the facts, and also about reconciliation. The one key line in the movie is ‘until you make peace with your past, there is no hope for your future’. Amen to that. Now that’s worth pondering. As summer blockbusters go, this one busts a lot of blocks, and literally dozens of cars as we go from Mexico to Japan to England, to America and more. I will be surprised if there is not at least one more such movie, making it an even 10, but FF9, while it does not get an F, by a long shot, still is not the best of the bunch.