Tuesday, 25 May 2021

F9 (2021) Film Review

Tokyo Drift 2, please.

I love the Fast and Furious saga, as previously written in my Hobbs and Shaw review. Starting with Fast and Furious 6 and continuing here, it has become more of a spy adventure by independent agents. Justin Lin, who has directed the most films in the series is back to direct this one, as well as 2 more to wrap things up. Several characters from previous films also return, all in an effort to make F9 the most epic in the series. Most epic? Yeah. The best? No.

Don't get me wrong. I was into this film. It was formulaic and there were no surprises, but honestly, I didn't mind it too much, but the soap opera nature and retcons were this film's undoing, taking me out of it. 

Here are the basics. Since Fast and Furious 8, Dom and Letty have settled into a peaceful farm lifestyle with their son, Brian. Then, Roman, Tej, and Ramsey show up with a problem. Mr. Nobody is missing. His plane went down, and he happened to be transporting a dangerous criminal: Cipher, the villain of the last film and the killer of the mother of Dom's kid. They investigate and discover that Jakob is responsible. It turns out, Jakob is Dom's brother, and he wants.... a MacGuffin that can destroy the world. Like I said, since Fast and Furious 6, it is a formula. Honestly, I don't remember the name of the thing, but it can mess up everything.

The point is, the team has a chance. Jakob needs the other half of the device, as well as a key to do his thing. The team spreads out all over the world to find new fast cars, the device, and allies. Letty teams up with Mia, who returns, and they go to Tokyo for answers, and they find Han, who isn't dead. I won't get into how he is back because if I say it here, you will think that I am lying. Seriously, I wasn't impressed, but frankly, it's there now. Nothing to do about it. Don't get me wrong: Han is one of the best characters, but retconning death, again, gets an eye-roll from me.

Also, Sean, Twinkie, and Earl from Tokyo Drift return, and point that they deserve a sequel. There is just a different energy to their dynamic. We find them working in Germany on a new fast car with a rocket. The same car that is used to go into space. I have to tip my hat to the filmmakers for doing that. I thought that they would save the space thing for the last film, but it is here, and it is just as ridiculously awesome as you can imagine. Back to the Tokyo drift crew: Yes, they help out a little bit, but we don't get much of them in general or why they left Tokyo. I was so excited to see these characters again, and yet, they along with several others don't have much to do.

The ensemble comes second to Dom's story, yet again. Dom is the only character with development, as the film has flashbacks to his youth with his brother, and the flashbacks contributing to the one unnecessary race of the film. I get that Dom is the main character, but he has been the center of attention for most of these films. When you have characters with this much personality that can easily carry their own films, you divide and conquer.

So many cameos. I appreciated most of them were from characters from previous films, like Shea Whigham's Agent Stasiak, but why Cardi B was in this, I don't know.

The action is undeniably awesome. Letty is on a motorcycle to drives through a minefield and goes faster enough to avoid blowing up. No, seriously. This happened with the first 15 minutes. Roman, still the comic relief holds his own and guns down several enemies with automatic weapons without some much as a scratch. And I'm not even gonna talk about what this film did with magnets. It has to be seen to be believed. It will thrill you.

This film has so much going for it, with its talented cast and crew that when it falls short on things, it is just loud and brutal. 

F9 is entertaining, loaded with expansive action set pieces and fun energy boosted by its ensemble, but it is dragged down by its retcons, plot convenience, and lack of focus on its expansive cast.


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