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  Fast & Furious 9 The Final Frontier
Year: 2021
Director: Justin Lin
Stars: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel, Charlize Theron, John Cena, Finn Cole, Sung Kang, Anna Sawai, Helen Mirren, Kurt Russell, Lucas Black, Shad Moss, Thue Ersted Rasmussen, Don Omar, Shea Whigham
Genre: Action, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: When Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) was a teenager, his father was a racing driver and he would have loved to have followed in dad's footsteps, but a terrible accident at a race one afternoon put paid to his dreams and left him content to be a criminal with a line in street racing. But there was someone else involved, as he had a brother he didn't like to talk about since he held him responsible for the fatal incident - what happened to that guy? He is about to find out as his attempts to settle down with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) with their young son are thrown into doubt when some of the old gang show up with less of a proposition, more an order...

The Fast & Furious movies were part of the blockbuster movie wallpaper by the time this ninth instalment was released, albeit belatedly as the pandemic hit and ate into its profits when it finally did show up, despite this franchise basically being a licence for Universal to print money. Never underestimate the attraction of watching cool cars zoom around the screen, and this lot never did, providing enough action down the years to keep the fans satisfied. But what was this? Had they gone too far this time? Was the series just getting too silly? How come audiences had just noticed that these films were utterly farcical when it came to plotting?

Of course, they hadn't, and that had been part of the appeal, but this episode, with its chases enhanced by super-magnets and one of the cool cars being driven into actual space, seemed to be flaunting the preposterousness, as if to say, "Yeah, we're going there - what are you gonna do about it? Nothing! There's nothing you can do about it! AH-HA-HA-HA-HAAA!!!" as they rolled around on a bed piled high with thousand dollar bills all collected from our gullibility. There was even a character who had pretty decisively been killed a few entries ago who was returned from the dead with a cursory point about the death having been staged, which annoyed some of the fans.

After all, if you really were invested in these movies, you did not want your investment to be made fun of, and that was what was happening here, as no matter how many scenes there were in sotto voce where the characters discussed how serious all this was, the way in which the rest of the movie negated that could be seen as hypocrisy. There was a scene where Tyrese Gibson contends the heroes might in fact be superheroes (though he doesn't use that word), but it is laughed off as his aptly-monikered co-star Ludacris explains that they are simply lucky to escape their actions without a scratch - do they not even get a few bruises? It was notable that the hand-to-hand combat sequences were pared down this time in favour of the car chases.

Was that an admission the cast were getting up in years, and were happier to give way to their stuntmen and women who could be filmed from behind clambering over the outside of moving vehicles and we would be little the wiser? One further example of how far this was overreaching was that they brought in John Cena to replace Dwayne Johnson who had fallen out with various folks involved by making Cena Dom's brother, never mentioned in eight episodes: aside from being musclebound, there was very little to indicate they were ever related. Yet very quickly into this, with its story about reclaiming a superweapon MacGuffin so perfunctory nobody seemed that bothered that it could end the world, you found that you either resisted its lack of sense, its acceptance the audience would swallow it all and not mind how daft it was, and its constant resorting to CGI to render it closer to a cartoon, or you thought, eh, what the hey, not everything has to be War and Peace, sometimes you just want something stupid to relax with, and you could not say this failed in that respect. Music by Brian Tyler.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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