So, after a couple years of Covid-extended anticipation, I finally got to watch Fast & Furious 9 (aka “F9: The Fast Saga”) (2021), and… eeesh! Obviously everyone has differing tolerance-levels for unrealism in action movies, and I’ve been able to enjoy most of the previous instalments despite the increasing absurdity of the stunts… but this is the one where my brain finally revolted, and proved unwilling to suspend its disbelief. I can happily accept standard genre fare like people surviving falls and explosions which would have been fatal irl, but for some reason a car driving up a collapsing/near-vertical untethered rope bridge was too much for me to swallow, and just kept nagging at me… somehow topping the quasi-magickal-magnets and space-car sequences, in terms of insults to my “intelligence”! At one point ‘Roman’ (Tyrese Gibson) realised that they’d somehow become immortal, reality-bending gods, and I thought the movie might actually go somewhere interesting with the premise, and have all the characters becoming self-aware, or discovering that they’re secretly mutants or something… but no. Instead his friends simply laughed it off, and carried on being invulnerable superhumans without having the courtesy to acknowledge it, or disprove it. Somehow even ‘Han’ (Sung Kang) has returned from the dead, via a sloppy retcon of a sloppy retcon (despite them already having played the “saved from a fiery car-explosion” card in a far more interesting way with ‘Letty’ (Michelle Rodriguez) back in F&F6), and ‘Dom’ (Vin Diesel) now has a previously unmentioned estranged brother (‘Jakob Toretto’ (John Cena)), who also happens to be a vaguely-defined international super-spy! I just… I just can’t anymore. This movie broke me.
On the plus-side, there was a badass fight scene where Letty, ‘Mia’ (Jordana Brewster), and the newly-introduced ‘Elle’ (Anna Sawai) worked together to take down a unit of armed soldier-men*… Helen Mirren had another entertaining cameo as the kinda-cockney “Queenie”… and Nathalie Emmanuel got some properly funny scenes playing ‘Ramsey’ as the crew’s clumsiest driver… but other than that, it was a total wash. The return of Charlize Theron as ‘Cipher’ was especially unwelcome… partly because she spent all of her early scenes imprisoned in a small glass-walled “cell” situated in plain sight of the baddies and their underlings, and I couldn’t stop wondering where/how she pooped. I assume there are some people out there who actually think her character is clever and cool… clearly director/co-writer Justin Lin is one of them… but for me she’s the equivalent of nails-on-a-chalkboard.
Of course, I’ll probably still end up buying the BR a year-or-so from now if there are some decent extras on it, because I’m compulsive like that… but I’m very glad I didn’t bother going to see this at the cinema (as I’d intended to do, pre-lockdown), because it really wouldn’t have been worth the ticket-price.
* There is a brief-but-fun behind-the-scenes featurette with Sawai online, where she talks about her training, and M-Rod praises her badassery. Yay!