dir: Justin Lin
The physics insulting bullshit rolls on and on…
This film series is renowned for violating everything we know about what cars and people can physically do on this plane of reality, but they’ve somehow upped the ante in two key ways – they put two characters in goddamn space, just beating the billionaires who went on their joyrides to the upper atmosphere by days, and now they feel like they can just add whoever they feel like, and say that long established characters have entire families they’ve never told anyone about.
It's really soap opera bullshit when you do shit like that, and this series has been indulging in that kind of shit since about the 4th one onwards. They’ve done the tropes where someone you thought was dead isn’t dead a couple of times, and they’ve even done the one where someone everyone else thinks is dead is alive, but HAS AMNESIA.
They’ve done the one where the ‘hero’ is forced to ‘pretend’ to be a bad guy because of a surprise baby someone is holding hostage, but they can’t tell anyone about it because reasons.
They haven’t done the one where someone has an evil twin, with the same actor playing both roles, which would have been great, with maybe Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) also playing an evil twin he never spoke about or knew about, called Tom, or Don Toretto, which is just Vin Diesel with a fake goatee.
Save it for the next one, definitely. Instead they decide to invent and wedge in a new character, being Dom’s hitherto unmentioned younger brother Jakob, so that John Cena has something to do. Now, as ex-wrestlers go, I don’t actually dislike John Cena, but when you’ve already brought in The Rock to play a superfluous character, you either have to stop providing charity work to ex-wrestlers or, alternatively, get all the old wrestlers.
I’m not talking about Andre the Giant or Randy Macho Man Savage or the Ultimate Warrior, because they’re all dead, and even they can’t be brought back to life by the keystrokes of a screenwriter. But they should at least get CM Punk, the Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, just anyone to annoy The Rock. They wouldn’t have to do much, except maybe drive a car? But they’d definitely earn their paycheck by grimacing and grunting at the appropriate times.
Cena shows us what a lot of muscular definition, mass and probably heroic amounts of human growth hormone does to a person: gives them a face like an Easter Island statue. He is a villain, for the most part, and has one of the most pointlessly convoluted reasons for ‘hating’ his brother Dom, and Dom for hating him. It involves something that happened to their father, but the way it’s resolved involves Dom having a near death experience and somehow accessing memories from thirty years ago in order to realise “oh, wait, that thing I blamed Jakob for happened differently”.
It's never even alluded to as to why he never mentioned the existence of this brother, to anyone, ever, including his, I dunno, girlfriend, wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), with whom he’s been living off the grid for some reason. They have a son together (though she is not the biological mother) who they call Little Brian, in honour of Paul Walker’s character, who lives on in this series, but not in life.
It is, this is going to sound really strange for me to say, because obviously any review I’ve ever written about this series points out how implausible and pointless these fucking films are. That will never change. But since Paul Walker’s death these flicks have used little homages to him in ways that may be manipulative, but they absolutely kill me. So whenever they mention Little Brian, to differentiate him from his uncle, I start goddamn tearing up. Whenever they allude to where Brian is, and what he’s doing, I start crying. And when, at the very end, when the ‘family’ is having its big lunch, and ‘Brian’s’ car pulls up, and it fades to credits before he gets out of the car, yes, I was openly weeping like he’s some blood relative who I deeply miss.
I never even knew the guy. They know, on the other hand, just what they’re doing, investing these trashy flicks with a poignancy they don’t deserve.
Anyway, to make up for the fact that Diesel has felt like he’s on the outs since Fate of the Furious, or the 8th one, because of The Rock’s much higher profile, and then they made a flick without him at all, starring The Rock and some angry middle aged British guy making dick jokes and fighting Idris Elba. Now they handed the franchise back to him so he could do his trademark gravelly whisper and punch some people and talk endlessly about the “family.”
There is a plot, and a magical device that threatens to blah blah blah the world, and Dom and his crew have to do something and go places and very often drive really fast in order to stop the device falling into the wrong hands. The wrong hands, in a plot twist blind grandmothers who’ve never seen a single one of these films can pick, turns out to be Jakob, who has somehow become the slightly eviller version of Dom. He works with a strange blonde guy who’s so transparently villainous that you marvel at how Jakob could be so naïve. Otto (Thue Ersted Rassmussen) is fey and awkward, kinda like how they used to portray Nazis back in the day in movies, but he’s one-upped by Charlize Theron, who is apparently another villain in this. Otto is some rich billionaire, so obviously he’s a piece of shit but for the life of me I cannot remember what Cipher’s (Theron’s) deal is. I know she’s the villain in Fate of the Furious but I thought she answered to another master, the same one Brixton Lore from Hobbes & Shaw answered to, someone or something that hasn’t been revealed yet, but my money is on it being Hulk Hogan.
Are there enough villains yet? Probably not, though I’ve made it sound like Dom takes on the world and wins. That is not the case. You have to get the family back together in order to fight a menace like John Cena, the blonde guy and a superhacker who doesn’t blink and has a delightful bowl-head haircut (It’s not obvious, but that last one is Charlize Theron, sporting the nastiest haircut of her entire career).
So there’s Dom, there’s Letty, there’s Roman (Tyrese Gibson, as useless here as he is every time), Tej (Ludacris), Ramsey (the delightful Nathalie Emmanuel), they bring Han (Sung Kang) back from the dead for some reason, and Mia, Dom’s sister (Jordana Brewster) is also here for some reason.
They do everything they need to do in order to keep the world safe. There are cars, there are cars with supermagnets, then there’s a car with rockets attached to it, because of course Tej and Roman have to go to space to stop an evil satellite from doing its evil satellite stuff. So many people probably die in this, civilians I mean, but it hardly matters, because the heroes are the good guys, and the bad guys are bad, and probably don’t even feel bad at all if they kill lots of people.
On the Insane-O-Meter, by which someone might try to measure the sheer dumbness of the action set pieces, I dunno, shooting a car into space is pretty out there, but driving off a cliff with some kind of, I dunno, grappling hook / flying fox / spear with a cable attached to it in order to fly across a massive gap and land in another country is the big reminder that these fucking films are super dumb. It somehow manages to be dumber than the one where they jumped from super tall building to super tall building in Dubai in one of the other treasures in this series. It’s stuff so dumb and implausible that your mind switches off, you regret ever hoping to just be entertained, and when you come to again it’s probably 20 minutes later, in which you haven’t missed too much, because these are long arse films.
Of the sequences, the one I probably liked the most was the least implausible, of someone who can’t drive, being Ramsey, being forced by circumstance to drive, and doing it very poorly. Watching someone who’s not a confident driver smashing into heaps of shit is very funny to me, for some reason.
There are car chases through London (highly implausible) and then even car chases in Edinburgh (somehow even more implausible), and then some other shit happens and the world is rendered a safe place again, thanks to Dom and the team, and he even reconciles with his evil brother, who now isn’t evil, he’s just misunderstood.
Dom has a love language. That language, considering that his super skill is just driving really well, is catching people with his car as if it’s a giant, loving, gentle hand. He catches a lot of people with his car, but, eventually, once he forgives him, he even catches Jakob. Awwww.
And on it rolls. No real ending, just a lead up to what happens next, which clearly involves Jason Fucking Statham again.
I don’t understand how sober people can watch these films and enjoy them. I was not sober when I watched this, of that you can be sure, but even I found it hard to believe that these scripts go forward as is, with this pure attitude of “fuck it, it’ll do” that you usually only see in dire flicks like the Transformers ones.
This isn’t the worst one of these flicks that I’ve seen thus far, but I’m sure something truly dire is coming down the pipeline. Is it impolite to point out that Vin Diesel and some of the other chaps are getting too old to believably play these super-action-y roles anymore? Is that ageist? Probably is. I mean, I don’t want to see the parade of has-beens appear in new roles as these films roll on, because if they start bringing in Arnie and Stallone and Bruce Willis and JC Van Damme I’m just going to give up, or at least watch future instalments even more begrudgingly.
The illusion that the world is recovering is supported by new instalments of Fast & Furious coming out into theatres, but it’s a lie, people. Two things I predict in the next flick that comes out – Gal Gadot’s character comes back from the dead as well, and the villains, of whom there will be exactly 18, unleash a wave of microchipped vaccines etc etc
These fucking films will never end.
6 times I blurted out “but that’s insane” while watching this gloriously pointless flick out of 10
“Be precise in life. It makes all the difference.” – okay boomer - Fast & Furious 9