F9: The Fast Saga, by Albert W. Vogt III

It would seem my reactions to things is the stuff of legends.  I do not know if this is a blessing or a curse.  Whatever it is, it means that I am expressive, or at least more so than my Midwestern, Northern European reserved heritage would suggest.  When there was some uproarious comedy coming out in theaters, my sister would like to go with me simply to see me laugh.  I guess that is entertainment, for some.  With many of those films, I probably would not receive it in the same way now as I once did.  Yet, I am apparently still known for responding to things in a visceral way.  The Legionnaire’s other reviewer, Cameron J. Czaja, wanted to see F9: The Fast Saga (henceforth, just F9) with me in order to gauge how I would take it.  I mean, I was likely going to be in the theater anyway because (much to my everlasting puzzlement and annoyance) people flock to these darn films like, well, take your pick of clichés about people doing things unconsciously to their detriment.  Lemmings, moths, etc.  They all work.  In short, if it were not for my own sense of duty to bring you these reviews, I would have left the theater before following everyone to their doom at the end, the “doom” being the Marvel-esque end-credits scene that implies that they are making more of these stupid movies!  Actually, I would not have bought a ticket for it at all, and would have instead seen Queen Bees, or Lansky, or Werewolves Within, or Gaia, or taken a swift kick to the shin.  But, no, F9 was the big, dumb happening in the box office this weekend, so away I went.  Thank God we had Portillo’s before heading to the theater.

After an endless set of previews (which only served to prolong the agony!), F9 begins with dinosaurs.  Huh?  At least, that was the reaction of the person sitting behind me, who seriously asked whoever he was sitting next to if they were in the correct movie.  Cameron prepared me for this, though given the rest of what happens in the film, heck, they could have had a herd of Tyrannosaurus Rexes stomp through a scene or two and it would have made as much sense as the rest.  No, this was a sneak peek at the next Jurassic World film, which is aggravating in and of itself, but that is a separate issue.  When we finally get to F9, it is 1989 and Jack Toretto (J. D. Pardo) is racing in a stock car (I think, though I am no expert).  His sons Dom (Vinnie Bennett) and Jakob (Finn Cole) are on his pit crew, and they have one last exchange before he speeds away and dies in a fiery crash.  Do not worry, Vin Diesel’s gravelly mouthed Dom is up next.  It then cuts to modern times, and Dom and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are living out in the middle of nowhere with Dom’s son or daughter . . . er, child, anyway.  They are going about their business when Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris “Ludicris” Bridges) arrive with distressing news.  They have received an emergency broadcast from somebody actually named Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), and he has crashed somewhere in Central America.  The film has been running for fifteen minutes and already I have no idea what is going on.  And, for some reason, it is up to all these people to do something about Mr. Nobody’s crash.  So, they assemble their fancy cars and equipment and have their jungle car chase scene, which hilariously ends with Dom and Letty swinging across a chasm Tarzan style in muscle car.  During this particular set of over-the-top action sequences (they all are, it is exhausting), Dom comes car window-to-car window with Jakob (John Cena), and their practiced mean faces says all you need to know about their dislike for each other.  But, because this film wants to make its audience suffer, it explains in a flashback that Dom blames Jakob for their father’s death.  Something about purposely tampering with Jack’s car to cause it to not function properly.  Whatever.  Anyway, Jakob is some kind of superspy gone rogue, and he had brought down Mr. Nobody’s plane because it carried the MacGuffin device.  It is not called that, but as there is little subtlety in this film neither will I be in describing it.  This thingamajig, if connected to a satellite, will give him the ability to control every weapon system on the planet.  Poor Ian Fleming.  Had he realized what his Bond character would have inspired, I am guessing he would have taken up frisbee golfing instead of writing.  I digress.  Jakob is in league with Cipher (Charlize Theron), the villain from pervious installments in this franchise.  Look, the only reason these films exist is to move the, um . . . pllllllooooooottttttt(????) . . . from one car chase to the next.  So, surprise, surprise, Jakob and his associates are pawns in Cipher’s grand scheme, and Jakob and Dom reconcile when Jakob realizes this fact.  Together, they stop Cipher, with the help of the comic relief duo of Roman and Tej taking out the satellite because, I guess, black people in space is funny.  Unfortunately, Cipher gets away, meaning they are going to make more of these movies.  So, as much as I would like to say “the end,” apparently that would be inaccurate.  That is the real tragedy in all this nonsense.

The . . . pllllllooooooottttttt(????) . . . of F9 is about as thin as a molecule of nitrous oxide that is sometimes pumped into the cars you see in the film, giving them an extra burst of speed.  It is all ridiculous, and I truly cannot tell whether or not it wants to be taken seriously.  For example, the whole side . . . pllllllooooooottttttt(????) . . . with Han (Sung Kang) and his adopted daughter, Elle (Anna Sawai), being the key to the MacGuffin device’s operation would have had more weight if they did not also have a preposterously large rocket engine strapped to a vintage Pontiac Fiero.  Oh, yeah, and Jordana Brewster has reprised her role as Dom’s sister for . . . reasons?  Anyway, all this mixed together makes for an awful mess that lurches between the silliness of computer genius Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) ineptly driving a moving truck through Edinburgh, and cringe worthy exchanges between Dom and Letty working through their relationship.  It becomes officially broken, though, when Tej says the line, “We have to obey the laws of physics.”  That is actually, literally said in this movie.  I heard it.  Cameron heard it.  I cannot speak for the rest of the audience and how it impacted them.  Yet, that was the point it which I almost left the theater.  There are cars swinging on vines, lifted into jet planes with magnets, tossed about by other magnets, launched into space from the back of a C-130, and a whole host of physical stunts that result in zero injuries, and it wants to tell us that it needs to obey the laws of physics?!  At one point, it makes fun of itself when Roman muses about all these crazy antics and how they do not have a scratch on them.   I am sorry, but you cannot have those two lines in the same film and have any credibility to this reviewer.

There was the briefest of moments early in F9 where my heart felt a bit of warmth.  When Dom is putting to bed his child, he or she (I could not tell, nor do I remember) says that God is in your heart.  Later on, Dom tells he or she to pray from the heart.  Hooray for that, boo to the rest.  I get it that they are not aimed at a person like me, and maybe it might have helped had I seen some of the other entries in the franchise other than the first.  I think I saw the second, but I have zero recollection of anything that happened in it.  Oh, yes, and I saw Fast and Furious Present: Hobbs & Shaw (2019).  That was terrible too, though I have no idea how it fits into this, er, saga.  You know, they used to reserve such words for chronicling the tales of warriors of a bygone age.  Their tales of bravery would inspire a new generation to carry on that legacy and preserve their people’s heritage.  It would seem that is what they are going for here, but I doubt even the most mead addled Viking would come up with something this dumb, and they did not even have Vin Diesel back then!  Based on all this, I will let you decide my recommendation for this one. . . .

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