F9: Vin Diesel's Fast & Furious 9 suffers 'badly from franchise fatigue'
- Credit: 2020 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS
Vin Diesel and crew have motored to the top of the cinema box office charts with the latest movie in the Fast & Furious franchise.
But is the latest Fast Saga movie, Fast & Furious 9, any good?
Film critic Paul Steward reviews F9, which includes scenes shot at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire.
Delayed for a whole year due to cinema closures, the Fast & Furious franchise finally returns for its ninth instalment (10 if you include spin-off Hobbs & Shaw).
The film sees Vin Diesel once again take on the role of speed racer turned secret agent Dom Toretto, while Justin Lin, who previously helmed episodes three through to six, returns to direct for the fifth time.
With Toretto now living the quiet life with his son and Letty (Michelle Rodriquez), his peace is disturbed when the rest of the gang arrive with an emergency transmission from Kurt Russell's Mr Nobody.
Pulled back into the world of fast cars and covert operations, the team are tasked with retrieving a mysterious hacking device, only to discover Dom’s long lost brother Jakob is also targeting the same tech.
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With chief series writer Chris Morgan not involved this time, the script is credited to Lin and Daniel Casey, but doesn’t manage to recapture the joy of the series best efforts.
We still have a gloriously soap opera style narrative, with Dom’s evil little brother appearing and previously deceased members of the team returning to the fold (nobody ever stays dead in the F&F universe).
But part of the problem is that charismatic pair Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and Jason Statham, who managed to strike the right tone and seemed to relish the ridiculousness of the franchise, are missing this time.
Without them, the film relies too heavily on Diesel and his overly earnest delivery. While extended flashbacks to Dom’s youth do little to lift the dourness.
John Cena takes on the role of Dom’s brother Jakob, but doesn’t have the magnetism of fellow former wrestler Johnson and just comes across as smarmy throughout.
The comedic heavy lifting is left to the trio of Nathalie Emmanuel, Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris, who return as Ramsey, Roman and Tej, and do an admirable job of lightening the tone.
Overall, the film feels like it’s stretching too much. We begin with a crazy chase across a minefield, but then attempts to go one better with every set piece thereafter feel contrived.
We get somersaulting trucks, a magnet plane able to pluck cars from the sky, and at one point even a car driven into space.
Of course, there is enjoyment to be had in the overblown nature and breakneck pace of it all, but it’s clear from the off that the filmmakers have little interest in plot development, as long as the action is big.
Not as much fun as previous chapters, Fast and Furious 9 is an unwieldy behemoth straining to outdo itself, partially entertaining as a big screen spectacle but suffering badly from franchise fatigue.