‘F9’ shows ‘Fast and Furious’ filmmakers can’t even take themselves seriously

Jun 25, 2021, 11:59 AM

It can’t have been easy coming up with a new plot for a ninth Fast and Furious movie, given that all those films are little more than a series of car chases and more car chases, occasionally enlivened with another car chase. No one, not the fans nor the filmmakers, is complaining, however, and why should they? This is a $5 billion dollar (and counting) franchise. The tricky part is that each successive film has to get bigger than the last. More bombastic, more outlandish, more ridiculous. Nine movies in, the writers must have thought they had no choice but to jump the shark. Not literally, mind you. What they concocted is even dumber. Can you say outer space?

Before we get to that punchline though, let’s back up. “F9: The Fast Saga” once again brings the Fast and Furious gang together to fight off yet another attempt by assorted bad guys to take over the world. Like the Infinity Stones in the Marvel Universe, a high-tech device that could control all the computers in the world, and hence the world’s weapons systems, has been split in two and hidden so no one entity could take over the world. Well, guess what? The bad guys are close to getting both halves and the key to unlocking its powers. Yawn.

But wait, there are a lot of chases – with lots of muscle cars, souped-up motorcycles, massive tanks, even armored vehicles the length of trains – in lots of far-flung locations (Montecito, Edinburgh, the Caspian Sea, Tokyo, London, Tbilisi.) The action set-pieces are unabashedly spectacular, if a bit repetitive over the course of this nearly two-and-a-half-hour movie. The film has a lot of fun with racing and chasing vehicles equipped with high-powered electromagnets, for instance, that both attract and repel everything from bystanders’ phones and watches to bad guys’ guns and cars. It’s hard to run somebody off the road when your car is magnetized to the car you’re trying to run down. Ha!

It’s understood and accepted that none of these stunts would ever work in real life, where physics still reigns.

But “F9” then goes where no Fast Saga entry has ever gone before. Space, the Final Frontier.

The Fast and Furious crew realize that in order to stop the bad guys it has to destroy a particular satellite orbiting the earth. So, of course, the crew does what any serious bad-guy-stopping operation would do – they strap rockets to an old Pontiac Fiero and shoot two of the crew into outer space. I kid you not. Thankfully, this is played mostly for laughs. When the two lucky astronauts Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris), wearing deep-sea diving outfits rather than space suits, finally reach orbit in their beat-up Pontiac, they’re in utter disbelief.

“This is crazy, bro!”
“Two dudes from the ghetto … in outer space!”

It’s a remarkably light and funny moment. We’ve suddenly left the gritty, stressful Fast and Furious world and have entered into Abbott and Costello territory. (“Abbott and Costello Go to Mars.”)

This comic relief works in the moment, but it eventually underscores a problem with the script. There are absolutely no stakes for anyone in the film. No one who shouldn’t die dies. In fact, some people who died in past movies are even explained back to life in “F9.”

In a very meta move, Roman even comments on how amazing it is that he’s never been hurt in any of his Fast and Furious escapades. Despite impossible odds, Tej and Ramsey and Letty and Dom have also escaped relatively unscathed time after time after time. The crew laughs it off and gets back to work. But the film clearly is acknowledging just how far-fetched this franchise is getting.

This kind of self-awareness is refreshing for a blockbuster franchise but could foretell its doom. When even the Fast and Furious filmmakers can’t take themselves seriously, will it be enough for fans to be in on the joke?

Perhaps what is needed is a kind of reboot. Much like the James Bond franchise did with Daniel Craig, this juggernaut of a series might benefit from a return to its rough-and-tumble roots. The original, “The Fast and The Furious,” was a pretty straight-forward movie about street racing in the mean streets of L.A. At this point, bringing Dom Toretto and “family” back down to reality would feel downright exotic.

Tom Tangney on KIRO Radio

Tom Tangney

Last Duel...
Tom Tangney

Poor Marguerite’s story saves ‘The Last Duel’

Tom Tangney says, ultimately, The Last Duel is a proto-feminist take on the Middle Ages with Marguerite's take that brings the film into focus.
3 days ago
James Bond...
Tom Tangney

Daniel Craig’s final James Bond movie comes full-circle

The 25th installment in the James Bond movie franchise may be titled "No Time to Die," but "Too Much Time to Die" may be more fitting.
11 days ago
Egyptian Theater...
Tom Tangney

Seattle’s Egyptian Theater hosts SIFF’s first ever documentary film festival

Seattle's Egyptian Theater is hosting SIFF's first ever documentary film festival. Dubbed DocFest, the weeklong festival features 13 separate titles.
18 days ago
Tom Tangney

A letter: ‘Dear Evan Hansen,’ the movie

Dear Evan Hansen, The Movie: I'm sorry I didn't like you as much as you wanted me to. I tried, I really, really tried.
24 days ago
nine days...
Tom Tangney

‘Nine Days’ is about as life-affirming a movie as there can be

Nine days to live. That's the premise of this new, refreshingly original movie called "Nine Days." But that premise is not what you think.
2 months ago
Tom Tangney

‘Stillwater’ does not run deep enough

Written and directed by Oscar-winning Tom McCarthy, 'Stillwater' is a contemporary story about a father's attempt to free his daughter from a French prison. 
3 months ago

Sponsored Articles


How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
‘F9’ shows ‘Fast and Furious’ filmmakers can’t even take themselves seriously