For most of us it has been a long time since we've paid good money to sit down in an auditorium and demand Hollywood entertain us for a couple of hours. If you were waiting for just the right movie to take you out of your quarantine ennui, then "F9: The Fast Saga" is as good a place to start as any.
The catch with this film, however, is you have to know what you're getting into. If you are new to the world of the "Fast and Furious" film franchise and expect a film to obey logic or physics, you will need to lower your expectations. For "F9: The Fast Saga" you just need to know two things: cars and explosions. The rest just sort of works itself out.
"F9" follows the same formula as almost all of its previous films so you know what to expect, which is good and bad. It should come as no surprise that bad guys are threatening to take over the world and the plot can only be stopped by a handful of people who inexplicably have only dream cars at their disposal to stop them.
Not sure why you never see a sensible gray 2010 Honda Accord ruining the bad guys' plans, but I digress. The fun part is figuring out how this movie will top itself this time.
Along with the tried and true cast of Vin Diesel,Michelle Rodriquez, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges and Tyrese Gibson, we also get to see John Cena and Charlize Theron blow stuff up. There are few characters from previous Furious films that pop up, but I don't want to ruin anything for those of you who have been following the films from the beginning.
As far as summer blockbuster movies, there are things to like and dislike about "F9: The Fast Saga" we should discuss.
Other than a slow 3 minutes at the beginning, "F9" gets off to a great start and does not stop until after the credits roll. Each film has progressively outdone itself in terms of being over the top, which if your mind is open to is a lot of fun. There are always new stunts and ways to get into and out of dangerous situations in a car that defy all common sense but somehow miraculously work every time.
I have always thought the vehicles in the "Fast and the Furious" films are as important, if not more so than the actors, and the cars in this film do not disappoint. Maybe it's the fact that I'm not worried about my insurance deductible that makes watching other people drive and destroy cars most of us only dream about so satisfying.
As with all of the "Fast and the Furious" films, the messaging revolves around the importance of family, which is great. The way they incessantly beat it into your head is not great, but you do leave with "family first" attitude and a lead foot by the end of the movie.
I know these movies are all about blowing things up and words are only necessary to accomplish the goal of blowing more things up, but it would be nice to have a more substantial script. The dialogue is never really raised above the level of "family good, bad guys bad."
It stands to reason that if there isn't much in the way of writing, then we shouldn't expect more of the acting. Just once, however, I would love to see Vin Diesel really stretch for that emotional connection. But the best we get here is the emotional equivalent of "family good, bad guys bad" and a single tear running down the cheek.
Don't get me wrong, there are some good actors in this film with Helen Mirren and Charlize Theron, but they are naturally so much better than the other actors that their performances feel a bit out of place in this film.
I don't know if someone far wiser than me once said this or if I just made it up, but "a good movie will entertain you, a great movie will inspire you." "F9: The Fast Saga" certainly entertained me, and it even inspired me to rally my sensible Gray 2010 Honda Accord at a reasonable speed out of the parking lot and the rest of the way home.
So, it's up to you to decide if this movie is good or great. As for me, it was a whole lot of one and a little bit of the other.
Rating note:This film is rated PG-13, so you should expect PG-13 language. There is nothing obscene, vulgar or overtly sexual in this film or its messaging. There is a lot of violence and people being shot, blown up, etc., but there is very little blood and no gore to go along with all the death.