Vin Diesel and John Cena as Dominic and Jakob Torettotwitter/escape88427151

Dragging oversized bank vaults, parachuting bulletproof cars, outracing nuclear submarines — the list just goes on. Just when you thought the Fast and Furious franchise had reached peak absurdity with each passing entry, the next swerves around the corner to deliver a sequel that cranks the NOS to eleven. And Fast 9 is no exception — Justin Lin (Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious 6) returns behind the wheel to steer the franchise to new frontiers (quite literally), offering moviegoers an explosive summer blockbuster that’s sure to break the mundanity of streaming old reruns.

Sporting an endless array of white tops, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) returns full throttle as he leads his motley crew of global super-spies on a cross-border fetch quest, hunting down the pieces of yet another doomsday device to save the world once more. Consistent with recent instalments, Fast 9 is far removed from the franchise’s humble beginnings – where street-level heists married the drastically lower stakes of stealing early-2000s DVD players. Here, a new gadget now threatens to uproot the entire world order by hacking into every computerised weapons system on the planet, and it’s up to Dom and his crew to prevent that from falling into the wrong hands.

“Fast 9 welcomes viewers into a world of strictly mindless fun – and on that it delivers to high-octane perfection.”

Unsurprisingly, the franchise’s penchant for recycled plot elements wraps Fast 9 up in a familiar package of trite storytelling — but few noteworthy treats do make up for this. For one, a key moment of retroactive continuity sees fan-favourite Han Lue (Sung Kang) back from his apparent demise, complete with a 2020 Supra that pays perfect homage to his original RX7 from Tokyo Drift. Fast 9 also marks the first time the series has stopped taking itself too seriously, with characters offering introspective reflections of their comically implausible abilities. Taking this in stride, Fast 9 welcomes viewers into a world of strictly mindless fun – and on that it delivers to high-octane perfection.

And what better way to show off this world than through its action? On this, Fast 9 makes it a point to be as bold as it can be. All logic and physics are jettisoned out the window in favour of wild vehicular feats: a car latches itself onto a “magnet plane” mid-air, gargantuan militarised trucks perform cartwheels with Olympic ease, and rocket engines are casually strapped onto sports cars. When boots are on the ground, plot armours are as iron-clad as ever. Dom is able to single-handedly fend off waves of enemies, while Roman Pierce (Tyrese Gibson) guns down foes with true “aimbot” precision. Indeed, the latter even offers an amusing self-aware assessment: perhaps they’re invincible, like superheroes.

“Loud and bombastic action meets quippy dialogue, complete with repeated invocations of themes of family"

The writing is juvenile to say the least, and at some points you might wonder if you were watching a deliberately comedic feature. One particularly confounding sequence sees secondary villains Cypher (Charlize Theron) and Otto (Thue Ersted Rasmussen) in an inexplicably vociferous exchange dropping Star Wars references, from X-Wings to Yoda, only to build up to a punchline that was laughable at best. Yet, it’s moments like this that make you appreciate the deliberately self-aware path that Fast 9 has paved: here’s a film that’s not afraid to embrace its mindless DNA, even if it means quippy one-liners and ridiculous exposition.

Of course, Fast and Furious is nothing without family, and I’m pleased to report that Fast 9 injects an even more potent dose of it with the introduction of Jakob Toretto (John Cena), curiously unheard-of until eight movies and one spin-off later. Like Dom, Jakob is too a global super-spy, albeit operating on the wrong side of the law. As the deluge of memes would already suggest, Fast 9 is still very much about family – this time exploring the ramifications of old family tragedies and intra-family vendettas that escalate into all out vehicular warfare. The film also spares no effort in reminding you of its overused thematic anchor: “There’s nothing more powerful than the love of family,” laments Queenie (Helen Mirren), “but you turn that into anger, there’s nothing more dangerous”.


Mountain View

The Rise and Fall of the Mafia Movie

In the end, Fast 9 brims with every guilty pleasure that makes the franchise so addictive and endearing. Loud and bombastic action meets quippy dialogue, complete with repeated invocations of themes of family. If you don’t mind shaving off a few brain cells for 143 minutes, then I’d wholeheartedly recommend Fast 9. And, just for the kicks, why not bring your family along for the ride as well?