Dom Toretto is living the quiet life off the grid with Letty and his son, but they know that danger always lurks just over the peaceful horizon. This time, that threat forces Dom to confront the sins of his past to save those he loves most. His crew soon comes together to stop a world-shattering plot by the most skilled assassin and high-performance driver they’ve ever encountered — Dom’s forsaken brother.
Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Michael Rooker, Helen Mirren, Kurt Russell, Charlize Theron, Anna Sawai, Vinnie Bennett, Finn Cole, Thue Ersted Rasmussen
Director: Justin Lin
Screenplay by: Daniel Casey, Justin Lin
Story by: Justin Lin, Alfredo Botello, Daniel Casey
Based on Characters by: Gary Scott Thompson
On the 22nd of June, we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Fast and The Furious, the starting point that kicked off one of the greatest movie franchises of all time. The series has changed a lot since that first film, moving away from the street racing to…whatever you call what they do now. But it is very fitting that Fast & Furious 9 is releasing so close to that anniversary as this film partially acts as a prequel to that original film.
After recovering his son in The Fate of the Furious, Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) have moved out to the middle of nowhere to raise Little Brian. Their peace is soon interrupted by Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) who just received an SOS message from Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell) whose plane has been taken down by unknown operatives. The team soon find themselves trying to stop a dangerous device from getting into the wrong hands and find themselves up against Dom’s estranged brother, Jakob (John Cena).
There is a moment in this film when Tej is explaining to Roman that numbers and the laws of physics give him confidence that the crazy thing they are about to do, and it’s crazy, is possible. This flies in the face of most of the film in which the laws of nature, physics, gravity and logic and the need for seatbelts go out the window. If you are willing to accept that this team can outrun landmine explosions, chase down ziplining assassins on foot and use electromagnets that affect all the metal around them except for the car they are in, you are going to be on board with this movie. This franchise has long abandoned realism and this film may be the greatest example of it so far. If you fell off the franchise because of this, this is not going to win you over. This is for those all-in on the ridiculousness.
This extends to the MacGuffin of the film: Ares, a spherical device that has been separated in half and will allow the user to upload a code that will give them access to every device that uses binary code. Jakob is trying to obtain this for his financial backer, Otto, the spoiled son of a foreign dignitary whose intentions are unclear. There isn’t a lot of depth to the plot, and certain elements are a bit predictable, but it serves its purpose of getting from cool action set-piece to cool action set piece.
If you are on board with the ridiculousness, you will thoroughly enjoy the action in this film. Returning director Justin Lin is able to make the over the top action set piece work and shine. I don’t want to spoil too much but there is some bonkers stuff in here that I struggle to imagine them topping in a 10th iteration. This entry sees a lot more hand to hand combat, at least compared to Fate of the Furious. A fight scene involving Letty and Mia (Jordana Brewster) in Tokyo was a highlight and made me more interested in the potential female-led spinoff.
The introduction of Dom’s forgotten brother may be scoffed at or looked at as the series jumping the shark, it actually gives the franchise an opportunity to look back at Dom’s history. There are a number of flashbacks to the most pivotal time in Dom’s life that we haven’t seen before: his father’s death and subsequent imprisonment. Vinnie Bennett is really great as a young Dom and it was great to see moments that we only heard about in the first film come to life. The conflict between the two brothers really works and John Cena is a great addition to this universe.
A major reveal for this film that has been a part of the marketing is the return of Han (Sung Kang). It was great to see him escape death and return in this film. Justin Lin provides us with all the reunion moments we need to keep us happy and does give an adequate explanation as to how he didn’t die in that car explosion after being taken out by Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). It is a bit of a stretch but the ends justify the means to me. While it was great to have Han back, and he does serve a plot purpose, I think we still need more #JusticeForHan.
With so much focus on Dom and Jakob, the rest of the cast don’t get much of a chance to have full arcs. The film does touch on Dom and Letty missing the action-packed life they had before but it never really gets talked about much more than a couple of scenes, possibly to avoid retreading the arc Brian had in Furious 7.