Review: F9

By Christian DiMartino

Warning: This review contains spoilers, for those who have yet to see it.

Wow, they really did it.

After The Fate of the Furious, where Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family fought off a submarine in the arctic with their cars, I joked that the only logical step for the franchise was for them to go to space. Again, I joked. Four years have passed, and now we have F9. It’s all pretty darn silly, but surely enough, in the final half hour, Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson are, I kid you not, launched into space in a car that happens to also be designed to be a spaceship. Guys… was this script written in crayon? What’s next? Are they going to travel back in time to Fast Five? You’re welcome (Also, Hobbs and Shaw featured super-soldiers).

Reader, it is clear that I am about two months tardy in reviewing F9. What took me so long? Well, a part of me wanted to see it, due to my suspicions about the space launch. Yet I never did because I vowed to avoid seeing it until I was able to be drunk during it. Nobody offered to drive, so the movie went unseen. Alas, I have now caught up with F9, and beer was indeed a good choice. The film is in a whole new Milky Way (no kidding) of silly… but it is also sort of fun. People eat this franchise up like catnip; I’m kind of done with it. That being said, the people behind these movies are pretty aware of the stupidity, and wear it with glee. It’s kind of admirable.

Here’s the thing: I am all for a dumb action movie, if it’s the right actor. For example, I adore the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Commando– it’s so, so stupid, but it’s wonderful, and purely Schwarzenegger. Truth is, I really don’t like Vin Diesel. He’s not a very good actor, he’s not particularly funny or charming or charismatic, and every time I come across an interview with him, it further confirms my belief that he’s delusional. So delusional that he probably takes these movies seriously, but everyone else is actually in on the joke. Basically, he’s the Bizarro Dwayne Johnson.

Alright, to the movie. Dumb Toretto (Diesel, looking more and more like Mr. Clean) is living a peaceful life with his son Brian and wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez, an ageless wonder) when the peace is disturbed by the other members of his family- characters played by Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson and Nathalie Emmanuel. They show him a video of Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell, skyping in) in danger and being kidnapped or something. So Dumb and his family- and they are his family (get up everybody and sing!)- set off to the jungle. It is essentially a huge action sequence that includes a field of landmines, and cars flying midair. Never say never with these movies.

It is through this sequence though where we are introduced to Jakob (John Cena), Dumb’s long lost and disgraced brother. If this sounds like something out of a soap opera, let me remind you that Letty was shot and killed in the 4th film, just to be brought back with amnesia in the 6th. Anyways, as explained through flashbacks, Dumb was under the impression that Jakob killed their father. Now, Jakob is working for Cipher (Charlize Theron), the evil mastermind of the last movie. Theron is a great actress, and while she’s a bit brief here, she appears to be having fun. However, these movies aren’t doing her any favors. In the last one, she had these horrible dreadlocks. This time, she has a chili-bowl haircut, reminiscent of the one Simple Jack had. Except this one doesn’t ma-ma-ma-ma-make us happy.

These movies, however, do make people happy. I wish I was one of them. For my money, I’ll stick with Mission: Impossible. This series is just getting more and more absurd, and yeah, F9 is no exception. Some of the action sequences are so stupid, it’s kind of amazing. Like from beginning to end, the action sequences set out to out-stupid each other. If we’re being honest, all of these characters would’ve died in the jungle sequence. This time around though, the characters go out of their way to acknowledge it. Ridiculous, and proud.

People eat it up. Me? I’ve had enough. F9 has stretches of fun, such as a cameo from Helen Mirren, and chances are you won’t be bored for a second. But the trouble is, these filmmakers go out of their way to make these ridiculous movies by means of compensating for the fact that nine of these movies is totally unnecessary. Car go vroom, movie go boom. If you’ll recall, the first movie was about a group of people who stole DVD players. Now, we’re in space. I guess I have something of a disdain for this series now because they should’ve stopped after the seventh film.

There have been some enjoyable entries in this franchise. There is even some enjoyment in this one. But after Paul Walker died in 2013, and his character, Brian O’Conner, was given a poignant, moving sendoff in Furious 7, the series should have ended with it. But… Diesel needs the money, and can’t seem to find work elsewhere, and he’s managed to find the perfect cash cow. Sure, he might tell you that Paul Walker would’ve wanted the series to continue, for the sake of the family. But to me there is something just a wee-bit too money hungry about it. The previous film ended on a nice note, with Dumb naming his son after O’Conner. This one… the ending made me feel kind of icky. F9? They should’ve tried Control Alt Delete (hardy har).

Again, it is clear that the love for these movies is still strong, and that I suck. We all know that I suck. My fear with this review is that I’m upsetting a fan base. If so, sorry? Surely, I have crossed a line, and these are fightin’ words. This is not the worst film I have ever seen, far from it, and it probably isn’t the worst of the series either. I just wish this series would cross a line too- a finish line.

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