So the Fast And Furious franchise is still going strong with the current release of “F9”. And if you’ve seen the other installments after Fast Five, you have a pretty good idea on how ridiculous, over-the-top and self-righteous this series has promised to be all in the name of FAMILY.
There’s no easy way to say what’s already been hammered home excessively but this time, I actually mean it: this is easily, by a mile, by limps and bounds, the most cartoonish, outlandish, hilariously over-the-top installment in the franchise by far and that is arguably both a form of praise…..and unfortunate admonishment.
It’s obvious these guys aren’t the best actors in the world, but bless their hearts they tried. I mean I can definitely give props for character consistency and, for some reason, the hokey dialogue they are given.
Of course, the stunt work and action set-pieces are preposterous to the point where it becomes self-parody. We have magnetic attracting cars, people defying physics, jumping from high spots guaranteed to kill you, the gang finally going to space using jet engines, rooftop, truck spots, they even go so far as to poke fun at how many times they didn’t die. It’s pretty much the equivalent of an adrenaline rush going 500 mph on a highway chase about to careen off the top of Mount Rushmore. For a normal kind of movie, I’d rip the hell out of this since in actuality, suspension of disbelief can only go so far…..but this franchise has long since threw physics, gravity and logic straight out the window ever since Fast Five so what the hell’s the point in tearing apart something I’ve grown to appreciate?
Pacing is mostly consistent in the first forty minutes and the last act but the middle piece of it does crumble a little bit under the weight of its own absurdity…..not that I minded. Makes fair use of its production design, CG is tolerable enough, cinematography is still able to capture everything on screen morbidly enough; long story short: you go into this movie as an average moviegoer or if you know what you’re getting into, you’re going to laugh your ass off ‘till the cows come home; I guarantee it.
But this installment has now taken this franchise so past the point of lunacy that most of the issues I don’t pay attention to in previous movies…..I can’t ignore them anymore.
While I can get behind Justin Lin trying to connect the absurdity of the storylines from the previous films, the end result of his direction is just another immaterial and pedestrian plot that I could arguably sweep under the rug since I don’t mind the juxtaposition between absurdity and earnestness in these movies. But this is the first time in a while where I felt a weird disconnect in the melodrama. I wasn’t taken out of the movie because of it but I could tell the context of this story…..just WOW, guys.
Forward momentum is a tricky thing to come by in a franchise that pretty much does the same thing over and over again and only NOW does said momentum trickle out by the end. Not to mention, I wasn’t going to be a fan of Han’s death retcon regardless of the explanation, and John Cena is one of the weakest villains in this entire franchise. When The Rock displays more charisma and is able to get a better fight out of Vin Diesel five films previous compared to you, you buggered it up.
How often do you run across something that always looks seconds out from spiraling out of control and yet still barely drifts itself to the finish line? That’s pretty much the later half of the entire Fast And Furious franchise in a nutshell but only now can I say, this franchise is finally running its course. Where else could they possibly go after space: tires are flat, bumpers have rusted, this hunk of junk has at least a million miles on it…..