June 24, 2021

CINEMA | 'F9' Gets 'The Fast Saga' Family Back on Track

"Careful's when you get hurt."
Michelle Rodriguez Nathalie Emmanuel Justin Lin | Fast & Furious 9 – F9: The Fast Saga
Universal Pictures
Franchise director Justin Lin returns to the Fast & Furious family after helming films three through six of the racecar action series. F9: The Fast Saga (aka Fast & Furious 9) basically brings together every previous entry and ties up any loose continuity from the prior eight films as Vin Diesel's Dom comes home again.

Co-starring the beefy but needlessly self-serious John Cena as the long-lost (and much whiter) villainous brother of Dom and Jordana Brewster's Mia (who returns), his Jakob returns to exact a decades-long sense of vengeance against his brother's crew. He also acts as a replacement for both Paul Walker's Brian character who remains alive but unseen after the actor's untimely death and also Dwayne Johnson's absent Hobbs as an opposing energy to the stoic Dom.

Fan-favourite Sung Kang also returns as Han after appearing to die violently (#JusticeForHan) during the events of Tokyo Drift also seen at the end of F&F6. Charlize Theron's bland evil hacker Cipher comes back as well to pull the strings in her contained performance set in a makeshift prison cell in the vein of Hannibal Lecter.

Lin and company spend nearly two-and-a-half hours zipping through the lives of the remaining F&F characters while globetrotting all over the world to either check-in or reestablish where and how these stragglers can come together again. Some of it is very dumb yet the film wastes little in its mission to culminate every thematic element or character to a satisfying climax enhanced by some insane car-based action on the streets of another European city.

Jordana Brewster Anna Sawai Sung Kang Justin Lin | Fast & Furious 9 – F9: The Fast Saga

Co-written by newcomer Daniel Casey and Lin, it's so amusing how Lin, upon returning to the franchise, decided to tie up every loose thread through flashbacks to Dom's youth and by retconning key details in order to reset our Fast & Furious family mostly back together again. It's not really an exaggeration to say F9 basically cures death or even harm for our lead characters. There's a not-insignificant amount of screen time dedicated to questioning why Dom's crew continues to survive its many ridiculously dangerous missions despite their ill preparation with nary a scratch.

F9 prevents itself from becoming self-parody by preempting its critiques and doubling down on its trademark brand of silly fun. Despite the silliness, there's a substantial amount of character legwork to flesh out Dom's past in hopes of justifying so many never mentioned until now aspects of shared family histories.

Lin is such a welcome return presence despite the departure of longtime series screenwriter Chris Morgan who left to focus on the Hobbs & Shaw spin-off. F9 may be one of the silliest studio blockbusters ever yet it never forgets to focus on fun and family. It's likely one of the better Fast & Furious entries and easily the out-and-out funniest with a clear self-aware comedic streak embedded into its stunts as a live-action cartoon.


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