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Review: Fast & Furious 9 – “A fun, explosive adventure”

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I remember going in to the screening for Fast and Furious 5 not really expecting much, but after that film and every sequel after I had to admit I loved this ridiculously bonkers franchise. Growing from humble street races to essentially a superhero film, the “Fast Saga” has kept me entertained – even if every time the ride ends I hope they end on a high, but in each sequel the films go bigger and crazier and this time is no different.

The ninth instalment introduces John Cena as Dom’s estranged brother and goes to great pains to explain his sudden appearance after 8 films. It’s more than is necessary for the saga where characters have had memory loss, died, returned and crashed through several buildings without injury. One such miraculous return is Han (Sung Kang), who first appeared in Tokyo Drift (the third film) and has been a fan favourite throughout. Several other characters from previous franchises make a return (including a mid-credit scene) most likely due to returning director Justin Lin who has directed several of these films.

Justin Lin’s steady hand and experience keeps the film fast-paced and easy to understand, although the hand-to-hand combat scenes are a little blurry. The action continues to be entertaining, whether or not they use cars, and is oftentimes bewilderingly over-the-top, but no-one is here for realism. Roman (Tyrese Gibson) spends most of the film pointing out the crews invincibility in such violent situations only to have a po-faced Tej (Ludacris) roll his eyes. The pair continue to work well as comic relief against the more serious elements of the film.

The main plot is fairly bland, there’s a McGuffin to chase and it leads to a globe-trotting adventure with stereotypical villains. The saving grace is the plot surrounding John Cena and Vin Diesel’s character’s Jakob and Dom, with a grounded drama playing through in flashbacks which chart the brothers animosity. A lot of credit is due to Vinnie Bennett and Finn Cole for portraying younger versions of the characters and giving this film more gravitas than it would deserve.

Overall Fast and Furious 9 is a great addition to the franchise and feels like a good jumping on point for anyone who hasn’t been keeping up. Characters jump in and out so effortlessly that by the time you wonder who they are they’ve already left the scene (Helen Mirren has such a cameo). This isn’t the last film in the saga and firmly sets itself up for two more sequels which will close out this saga. The action has moved away from practical stunts focusing on glitzy CGI action but for anyone looking for a fun, explosive adventure this is one to return to the big screen for.

Fast & Furious 9 hits cinemas on 24th June 2021.

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