Having been delayed for over a year we now have Fast and Furious 9 the latest in the blockbuster series of how to fail your driving test and as ever the franchise theme of faaaaaamily continues with Dom Torreto’s (Vin Diesel) unexpected appearance of younger brother Jakob (John Cena) . So whilst big brother now lives an idyllic lifestyle in the country repairing tractors with his young son, little brother has fallen into bad company with Cypher (Charlize Theron) who spends much of the few scenes she has locked in a large plastic box like a Tate Modern display of some Hannibal Lector supermodel hybrid. Yet despite Dom and his adherence to droning on about faaaaamily when his fellow crazy car crew arrive to enlist him in their next adventure it doesn’t take much persuasion to leave his young son and go off with the gang so it’s more than likely that Fast 10 will see Dom battling Social Services.
It’s a series of flashbacks to the brothers younger days as a pair of grease monkey mechanics to their Dad, a racing car driver, that reveals a little of their background and the explosive death of their father, the recriminations and subsequent fallout that has little brother out for revenge on big brother. It’s a revenge that Cypher herself is also out to get against Dom and is using his younger brother to do so in the hunt for a bit of I.T. kit that will give her control of the world’s computers making the world’s adolescents desperate to delete their internet history. So as ever we have the expected international city hopping that even takes in Edinburgh despite the plot never making mention of the bit of IT they’re after needing to be powered by shortbread and Irn Brew. But the city does host several of the eye popping stunts as the brothers hop across the tops of speeding vehicles like some psychotic version of Frogger.
The Fast & Furious series was saved from straight to DVD purgatory after the immense success of the fifth film and director Justin Lin returns to helm with his usual appetite for destruction and the stunts are as preposterous as we have now come to expect. The gimmick here is the introduction of an electro magnet able to drag vehicles through buildings and attracting anything metal that’s not screwed down. As with each successive instalment the film makers have to up the ante and the rumour of Fast and Furious 9 going into space is partly true with a rocket propelled car piggy backing a plane in space shuttle style. As madly entertaining as the gravity defying stunts are it’s this moment which hints that the franchise has finally, ‘jumped the shark’ which in light of what has gone before is no mean feat.
Equally with the stunts having grown bigger so had the cast with arguably better actors too but Fast and Furious 9 strips it down to the core with a mostly BAME team rounded off with Han (Sung Kang) who had seemingly been gone to the great scrap yard in the sky but is now recycled and resurrected. It’s was well documented that Vin Diesel, who also gets a producer credit, had not seen eye to eye with Dwayne Johnson and perhaps this is why he was farmed off to a spin off film but the big name scenes are greatly reduced to blink and you miss it cameos with Helen Mirren apparently with a free morning to pop along for a quick pay day fresh from vocal coach Dick Van Dyke’s school of wobbly cockney accents, Gal Gadot fleetingly appears and blinks more times than she has lines and Kurt Russell reduced to a distorted viral clip and Theron is largely wasted all of which puts Vin Diesel front and centre and still looking like a scowling Malteser and presumably thankful that he’s not known by his initials.
Fast and Furious 9 is as fast and furious as we’ve come to expect with hugely enjoyable OTT action expertly choreographed by Lin but there is perhaps a sign that maybe the franchise is starting run out of fuel…..although it’s also worth waiting for a mid credits scene
Here’s the Fast and Furious 9 trailer…….