Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Movie with Abe: F9: The Fast Saga

F9: The Fast Saga
Directed by Justin Lin
Released June 25, 2021

One of the key aspects of a franchise is dependability. Like diners at a chain restaurant, audiences want to know what they’re getting before they buy a ticket, and that, even if it’s nothing new or revolutionary, it’s worth another trip to the theater. When a movie series arrives at its ninth installment, when its title is shortened enough to only include one word of its original’s moniker, it’s hard to imagine that audiences don’t know just what it is that they’re signing up for and expect to see. To think that a ninth film could be just as entertaining and enthralling as any that came before it is a stretch, but this blockbuster sequel delivers tremendously.

Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) have settled into domestic life far from the chaos of the world that brought them together, but they can’t sit on the sidelines when Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) show up looking for their help in tracking down a missing Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell). An international adventure ensures, bringing back old enemies and other ghosts, including Jakob (John Cena), Dom’s estranged brother, and Cipher (Charlize Theron), along with a new power-hungry villain, Otto (Thue Ersted Rasmussen).

Plot details almost don’t matter in this movie, because audiences show up for the car racing and the action. This film adds an equally alluring and absurd new device, which is electromagnets that each member of the team uses frequently to catch their pursuers and targets off-guard by jolting any metal on or near them across the road or room. It’s a fun concept that becomes even more frequent as the film progresses, and even if it might not make all that much sense, that’s never been the idea here. Those eagerly awaiting a handful of gravity-contradicting stunts will also not be disappointed.

After two decades of movies, this franchise knows what audience expectations are and is fully aware of how to take it to literal and figurative new heights, never skipping a beat and providing constant entertainment along the way. Any downtime is brief and fleeting, and the oversentimentality that comes off as corny serves sufficiently to fill the gap between action sequences that are startling and seemingly impossible. There isn’t even time to process the craziness of certain twists or plot developments since this film just goes there and fully delivers. The cast includes plenty of comic relief and some truly enjoyable dynamics. Two hours and twenty-five minutes has never gone by so quickly, and while it’s satisfying enough in its own right, it absolutely makes an argument for more and more of this superbly successful formula.


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