The Fast and Furious franchise has now entered its meta-parody stage.
The Premise: Dom (Vin Diesel) and his crew, who were mere street racers when this whole thing began in 2001, are now somehow responsible for taking down an international terrorist who just happens to be Dom’s estranged brother, Jakob (John Cena). Jakob’s really angry – angry enough to align himself with the group’s former nemesis Cipher (Charlize Theron), who revives a horrendous haircut if not the same level of threat.
The Verdict: F9 will not be winning any new fans to the franchise. It has finally gone balls-to-the-wall bat-shit bananas. Fans knew this was coming. The franchise hasn’t been shy about amping up the stakes in previously thought to be impossible increments from film to film. It was only a matter of time before they drove their cars in space. F9 continues to evolve Dom’s concept of family, leaving less time for driving and street stunts. Not to despair: what they do manage to fit in is larger than life. It wasn’t even the trip to space that had me complaining “I’m not sure who’s more offended, me, or physics.” John Cena can’t act, making him a perfect match for Vin Diesel, who has managed not to improve one iota in the past two decades of the film’s franchise, despite acting alongside such Oscar winners as Theron and Helen Mirren. From its inception, Fast and Furious has made diverse casting look easy; Dom is surrounded by a bunch of colourful characters that we have come to know and love over the past 9 films, most of whom have stayed the course, including founding member Brian, even though Paul Walker has been dead since F7 (his character lives, always on the periphery, just out of sight, just a little late to the party). Fans will undoubtedly find something of merit in F9, even if it’s just an appreciation for the franchise’s willingness to push the boundaries of incredulity. They are shameless, which makes their antics all the more fun.