THE beginning of the ninth installment of The Fast Saga starts off strong, the flick pitching us back to the 1980s in a Days of Thunder-esque flashback where Dominic Toretto’s dad Jack Toretto (J. D. Pardo) is taking part in a circuit track race.
Hardcore fans of the franchise will already know this is the race Dom spoke about in the first F&F flick where his father dies in a fiery crash, with a young Dom (Vinnie Bennett) and Dom’s brother Jakob (Finn Cole) on hand in the pits during the scene.
It’s a poignant opening, and a dry-shot of nostalgia for fans that have been with the franchise since the beginning, eerily foreshadowing the events that would set the entire franchise in motion.
At first it seems like we may be in luck, with the F&F franchise seemingly returning to its roots of cars racing cars without stupidly overdone stunt sequences using submarines, tanks or WWE smackdowns. Sadly, it’s not long until a Mustang GT350 jumps off a cliff only to be magnetised to safety by a plane, a Jeep Rubicon Gladiator seemingly defies the laws of gravity by crossing a gorge on a wooden bridge that’s already fallen down, and, yes, the rumours you may have heard about a trip to outer space are true.
The movie is broken up by flashbacks to that grassroots stock car circuit and provide a pseudo-origin story for Dominic Torreto’s character.
Meanwhile, the basic plot centres around the newest character to the franchise, Dom’s long-lost brother Jakob (John Cena), who is working for some master villains to attain a software device capable of controlling all the world’s computers and devices – and therefore weapons systems.
Dom’s crew is tasked with chasing Jakob around the globe on the search for the software devices. Along the way we see Dame Helen Mirren DBE powersliding a Noble M600 through the streets of London, Han Lue (Sung Kang) returning from the dead in a new GR Supra, and the crew flipping an armoured semi-trailer on its belly using magnets (bear with me here), which then somehow manages to slide perfectly straight down a hill upside down for what feels like a solid 15 minutes. Remember that runway sequence from F&F 6? Yeah, they still haven’t learned.
While the constant dialogue around “family” is as rife as ever, the excessive gear changes have finally been given the boot, only to be replaced with magnetic dial turning in the major chase scene. Thought the new dial gear shifters in modern cars were bad? Try watching a car chase scene in which all the assailants are using massive onboard magnets to throw other cars around, the in-car footage showing nothing more than some bad wheel work and constant dial shifting that would look more at home on a stereo system than in a high-octane car chase.
The ridiculousness of the stunts hits a peak when a Pontiac Fiero that’s been turned into a space shuttle (no, you’re not misreading) built by returning characters Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) and Earl Hu (Jason Tobin) is piloted into space by Tej Parker (Ludacris) and Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) and smashes into a satellite.
While the stunts are enough to give a physics teacher a brain aneurysm, the cars themselves are actually pretty stout. Along with the victims already mentioned, there’s also a 1966 Dodge Charger and Fox-body Mustang that go head-to-head in the only street race in the whole movie, John Cena briefly steals and slides around in a Toyota 86, Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) pilots a 1971 Chevy Chevelle and Dom’s infamous Dodge Charger cops a widebody makeover and a mid-mounted Hellcat engine.
With Paul Walker’s absence, not a single Skyline or GT-R appears in the film until his blue R34 GT-R arrives at the Toretto pad in the very last scene of the film, which, as per usual, also features grossly overmarketed Coronas and burnt chicken.
We had to wait over 12 extra months for the delayed Fast 9, and it really wasn’t worth it – but then again, it’s not like we were surprised. Sub-par acting, stunts that make Mad Max: Fury Road look tame and a plot that barely makes sense combine for what isn’t really a car movie and something even Michael Bay would struggle to take seriously as an action flick.
It’s an entertaining enough watch if you treat it as a mindless action movie, but you’ll need to throw everything you know about physics to the wind.
Does Dom Toretto have any more dysfunctional siblings we should know about? We wonder what past-his-prime WWE wrestler will appear next…
And the worrying part? There’s still two instalments to go before the F&F franchise is buried for good.
- 1968 Dodge Charger
- 2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
- Toyota GR Supra MkIV
- Pontiac Fiero
- Noble M600
- Jeep Gladiator Rubicon
- Shelby Mustang GT350
- Toyota 86
- Fox-body Mustang
- 1966 Dodge Charger
- Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R
- Vin Diesel
- Michelle Rodriguez
- Tyrese Gibson
- Chris “Ludacris” Bridges
- John Cena
- Cardi B
- Jordana Brewster
- Nathalie Emmanuel
- Sung Kang
- Anna Sawai
- Jason Tobin
- Michael Rooker
- Helen Mirren
- Kurt Russell
- Michael Rooker
- Charlize Theron
Cars jumping cliffs, semi-truck flip-over, fist fighting, space travel
In Australian cinemas now