It’s hard to believe that the franchise launched with The Fast and The Furious almost twenty years ago. Fast forward the clock into 2021, and the ninth instalment, F9: The Fast Saga takes us to greater and far more audacious places than any other film yet. Just how far I hear you ask, well… space. Yes. A series once centered around illegal street racing has taken to the stars, and it’s about as ridiculous as it sounds.
We’ve witnessed some breathtaking action set pieces in the past, everything from cars jumping through skyscrapers to a lengthy chase along the world’s longest runway. In 2017’s The Fate of the Furious, we had orange Lamborghinis, submarines, and Dwayne Johnson guiding a nuke by hand across an ice bed. Then we had Charlize Theron and her remote-controlled cars falling from buildings in New York City. Plus, let’s not forget the bank heist through Rio. However, Fast 9, it’s safe to say, steals the crown for the ambitious and daft storyline yet.
So let’s talk about space as it’s certainly something we need to discuss a little more. It is categorically the most audacious storyline ever conceived within the franchise and left me shaking my head, thinking back to the simpler times of illegal street-racing and undercover cops in LA. It’s a definitive sign that the Fast and Furious franchise has once and for all, truly lost the plot. In fairness, I’d reached a similar conclusion as the credits rolled at the end of The Fate of the Furious.
Speaking of, and I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking this, but all the while we knew Cipher the cyber-hacker would flip the script on John Cena’s villain by the film’s third act. It came as a bit of a surprise that Theron’s character would somehow feel so underused. Instead, she was left in the back seat for the majority of the film, contained in a glass prison at the hands of the film’s generic bad guys (Otto, who cares?), and in all likelihood stalling for time before the Fast franchise attempts their very own Infinity War-style two-part finale.
You wouldn’t be wrong to suspect that the writers are building up to a showdown between Cipher and Dom once and for all, and exact revenge for Elena’s death in The Fate of the Furious. As for our main villain, John Cena’s robotic take as Dom’s estranged brother Jakob Toretto, well… yawn. The highlights include rehashed ideas seen before in Furious 6 (another world-ending device in the hands of a sinister private terror group, the usual then).
Perhaps the biggest question in F9: The Fast Saga had to be, how did Han survive the explosion that killed him during the events of Tokyo Drift? Well, rather unsurprisingly, Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody plays a key role here. After Gisele’s death in Furious 6, as Han returned to Tokyo, Mr. Nobody approached and hired Han for a mission, assisting him in faking his death to later work and acquire a weapon for Mr. Nobody with the capability of taking control of computerised and nuclear power, the world over. Don’t worry, it’s not nearly as scary as it sounds, just daft. The only explanation we’re given from Mr. Russell’s Mr. Nobody surrounding Han’s miraculous escape from a fiery death was down to a ‘magic trick’, and that’s the only explanation we’re given.
F9 was fun. It was certainly fast, and absolutely ridiculous. Nothing is off-limits with the franchise, and with two more films to go, I can only imagine that the next film will involve time travel, or racing around the rings of Saturn to power a dead planet. Or perhaps Thanos will turn up. Next up on the agenda is probably a sequel to 2019’s Hobbs & Shaw spin-off. In the mid-credits scene of F9, Jason Statham makes a surprise cameo, beating a Russian criminal inside a body bag. There’s a knock at the door, and to his shock, he finds Han on the other side. Imagine that conversation. Awkward.
Han’s out for revenge, and so once again, despite my objections, I know I’ll be buying tickets for the next instalment of this fantastically far-fetched franchise, no matter where they go. The series has never stalled to entertain, and F9 delivered its usual mix of humour, visceral action, and surprising moments of emotional poignancy effortlessly. Highlights include Tyrese Gibson’s comic antics and the giant magnets, Helen Mirren’s Queenie Shaw, Ramsey’s inability to drive, and the return of Mia Toretto. However, the most significant moment of all came in the film’s final scene as a blue Nissan Skyline (the iconic car of the late Paul Walker) pulls up into the drive of 1327.