After over a year’s delay, the ninth entry into the seemingly unkillable Fast Saga is finally here, and why not? Maybe what we need after a cruel absence of cinemagoing is another car-go-vroom fuckstravaganza to mindlessly entertain us.
Then again, maybe not. F9 may not be a disaster on the same scale as 2 Fast 2 Furious, but it’s certainly a powerfully shit comedown from the entertaining hijinks thrown our way since the franchise was reinvented with Fast Five.
Admittedly, it knows what it is and doesn’t claim to be anything else than a deliriously dumb excuse to throw cars off things while defying all logic, gravity, and how human bodies react to physical trauma. And granted, complaining about an absence of logic in a Fast & Furious film is akin to whining about Vin Diesel’s lunatic proclivity for tank tops and only having one facial expression that barely passes him off as human – it’s par for the course at this point, and nothing will change any time soon. But by God does F9 try extra hard to up the stupid, adding even more layers of dreadful sentimental tripe whilst lowering the jeopardy and finally jumping the shark by taking the vroom-vrooms to outer space.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. What started in 2001 as petrolhead porn morphed into a John Woo-era Mission: Impossible spinoff series fooling itself it’s really about family, and F9 is quite simply what happens when a never-ending franchise fully embraces becoming a parody of itself. You get a sense they still care, but now they’ve settled in a place of contentment where giving off the impression that its plot points, set pieces and dialogue have been excitedly doodled by a hyperactive 7-year-old who’s on a break from smashing his toys together and reaching the apex of a mighty sugar high is fine by them.
If that sounds like your kind of escapism, have a blast. I really didn’t. And mark my words: should they decide not to call the next (and hopefully last) instalment Fast-10 Your Seatbelts, then they’re really running on empty.
F9 / Directed by Justin Lin (US, 2021), with Vin Diesel, John Cena, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson. Starts July 15.