Fast and Furious 9 review: bigger, faster, sillier

Published: 25 June 2021

► The 9th film! 
► Old friends and new enemies
► And space…

A hush descends around the IMAX cinema as Tyrese (Roman) and Ludacris (Tej) finally break free of the Earth’s atmosphere. ‘This is ridiculous man,’ says one. ‘Ain’t nobody gone believe us, right,’ says the other. Even after eight films and under two hours of the most ridiculous plots and set pieces, it seems Fast and Furious always has another gear – just like the cars the characters drive. 

There are spoilers ahead, but the plot is secondary, so they shouldn’t really matter. This is a film in which character returning from the dead is a key plot twist – only he’s on the poster anyway. But let’s dive into the plot.

After a flashback – revealing that papa Toretto was killed in a stock car race – and some exposition of the ‘boring life’ Dom and Letty now lead, Ludacris and Tyrese arrive in a 2021 Jeep with the plot. It’s ingenious in its simplicity; Mr Nobody is dead, his hacker prisoner (Charlize Theron) is on the run – and there’s a device called ‘The Device’ which has two halves and requires a key – which is a person. Time to get the gang back together and sort this out.

Simple then, except John Cena, a shady son-of-a-dictator and a range of ludicrous gadgets (including a stealth fighter with room for a Mustang) stand in the team’s way. Cena (Jacob) is from Dom’s dark past, and sure enough he’s the evil brother nobody knew about. Except he can’t be all that evil, because he’s obviously going to join forces with Dom in a few set pieces towards the end of the film, isn’t he? Yes, he is. 

What follows is a variety of genuinely amusing jokes, incredible set pieces – which you have to applaud for thinking of and then filming – and a collection of sayings to live life by.

Along the way there’s a cockney Helen Mirren in a mid-engined sportscar failing to shake some BMW saloons, rocket cars – and the team using an NSX to inconspicuously tail someone. The latter takes place in Edinburgh and comes just before a chase where Dom drives his car, now shipped to Scotland.

Still, you have to admire the spectacle. Early on, the team traverse a minefield, and their best tactic is to ‘go faster.’ There’s also some hilarious knocking at the fourth wall from Tyrese’s character. After so many high-speed adventures, he wonders how he’s still alive – and ends up leaning into the idea throughout the film.  

As for the finale? It’s mainly about magnets.

Verdict

After eight films, you’d think the Fast and Furious franchise would’ve run out of gears – or runway – but you’d be wrong. Now a genre in its own right, F&F has almost become self-aware. The silly cars, NOS and countless gear changes are still here, but they’re joined by a range of other spectacles and vehicles, all precariously wrapped together with the thinnest of plots.

Is Fast and Furious 9 a good film? Not really. It’s everything you expected but faster, louder, bigger and more ridiculous.

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast

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